Conflict-related Sexual Violence

World | Conflict and Excess
The effects of sexual violence echo across generations, through trauma, stigma, poverty, poor health and unwanted pregnancy. The children whose existence emanates from that violence have been labelled “bad blood” or “children of the enemy”, and alienated from their mother’s social group. Their vulnerability may leave them susceptible to recruitment, radicalization and trafficking. In South Sudan, sexual violence has become so prevalent that members of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan have described women and girls as “collectively traumatized”.

In the context of mass migration, sexual violence continued to be a push factor for forced displacement in contexts such as Colombia, Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Horn of Africa and elsewhere and remained a heightened risk in transit and in refugee and displacement settings. Many women and girls were subjected to sexual extortion by camp officials or by migrant smugglers in exchange for their assistance. The fear of rape as a factor inhibiting the return of displaced communities to their homelands became more prevalent over the past year. Many women are reticent to return to locations still under the control of the forces that compelled them to flee, in particular in the absence of accountability, as noted by Rohingya refugees. Rapes have been reported in villages to which displaced Darfuri women have returned, and refugee women re-entering Burundi have been sexually harassed in retaliation for having fled.