Not So Collateral: Sexual Violence Targets Women and Girls in Conflict

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Patient consulting at the family support centre in Port Moresby following inter-partner violence

Photo by Yann Libessart/MSF

Not So Collateral: Sexual Violence Targets Women and Girls in Conflict

For women and girls, war and instability leads to an increased risk of sexual violence. This includes the strategic use of rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and pregnancy as weapons of control. Such brutality threatens both the health and lives of women and girls around the world.

Nearly 19 countries and 45 armed groups are suspected of conflict-related sexual violence, as reported by UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura. These include government, opposition and religious extremist groups varying from Syria to Sudan to Myanmar. At the same time, this hostile environment often translates into domestic abuse and cultural stigma for women and girls at home.
“…women and girls are abused on and off the battlefield, by strangers and by family members, not just as an accident of war but also in a deliberate strategy to terrorize and humiliate…”

Since 2005, MSF has treated more than 100,000 survivors of sexual violence around the world. In Central African Republican, this includes nearly 500 survivors of abuse in just 2014 – some below the age of eight.

Women and girls bear the double burden of abuse both “on and off the battlefield.” Used as a weapon of war, sexual violence disproportionately targets women and girls in conflict –making them not so collateral.

Because Tomorrow Needs Her focuses on the impediments to women’s health, exposing injustices that disproportionately affect women and girls around the world.

#tomorrowneedsher #womenshealth #sexualviolence