Secretary-General's Report on Gender-Based Violence in Conflicts

Details of the art exihbition "Horror and Hope" Details of the art exihbition "Horror and Hope" © Noorulhuda Nadheer via UN News

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, it is crucial to raise public awareness of this devastating issue and promote concrete actions to protect victims and prevent further atrocities.

Introduction

The Secretary-General's Report S/2024/292, titled "Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: Annual Report of the Secretary-General," provides an in-depth and updated analysis of the devastating impact of sexual violence on women, girls, men, and boys in conflict settings. Published annually, this report offers a comprehensive overview of global trends, persistent challenges, and measures taken to combat this scourge.

Data and Case Examples

According to the report, 3,688 of conflict-related sexual violence were verified in 2023, a number that represents only a fraction of the real figure due to widespread underreporting. Victims include women, girls, men, and boys. Some emblematic cases cited in the report include:

  • Central African Republic: Women and girls were victims of rape and sexual violence during military operations by government security forces and armed groups
  • Ethiopia: Large-scale sexual violence occurred during the conflict in the Tigray region, including gang rapes, female genital mutilation, and killings.
  • Myanmar: Rohingya women systematically suffered rape and other sexual violence by Myanmar security forces during the 2017 military crackdown.
  • Ukraine: Numerous cases of sexual violence against Ukrainian women and girls by Russian troops have been documented since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

These examples highlight the daily atrocities in conflict settings, where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war to terrorize, control, and humiliate civilian populations.

Impact and Consequences

Victims of sexual violence in conflicts suffer profound physical and emotional trauma, often with long-term consequences on their health, well-being, and ability to participate in social and economic life. Sexual violence can result in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, psychological trauma, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even death. Additionally, sexual violence has a devastating impact on entire communities, creating an atmosphere of terror and distrust, hindering social cohesion and the peace process.

Challenges and Obstacles

  • The report identifies several challenges that hinder the prevention and response to sexual violence in conflicts, including:
  • Lack of access to justice for victims: Most victims do not report the violence they suffer due to fear of retaliation, social stigma, and lack of trust in institutions.
  • Widespread impunity for perpetrators: Crimes of sexual violence in conflicts are rarely punished due to weak judicial systems, corruption, and lack of political will to prosecute those responsible.
  • Stigmatization and discrimination: Survivors of sexual violence often face stigma and discrimination, hindering their access to support and services.
  • Limited resources: Programs to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflicts often suffer from a lack of funding and human resources.

Actions Taken

Despite the challenges, the report highlights efforts at national, regional, and international levels to combat sexual violence in conflicts. Key actions include:

  • Strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks: Adoption of specific laws on conflict-related sexual violence and ratification of relevant international treaties
  • Supporting victims: Establishment of medical, psychological, and legal assistance services for survivors of sexual violence.

---

To learn more:

Read 125 times