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A Closer Look at Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13 2012 (IPS) - A new 2012 Human Security Report Project (HSRP) by the Simon Fraser University in Canada points out that evidences on wartime sexual violence and the impact of war on education should be reviewed.

 Wartime sexual violence is a great threat to all of those living in conflict affected areas, said Sebastian Merz, Associate Director for the HSRP.

The first part of the report focuses on ‘’the impact of wartime sexual violence on adults, as well as children, and details some surprising revelations about the impact of war on educational systems,’’ states the report.

Effects of sexual violence during war can ‘‘create massive suffering, inflict psychological trauma, disease, unwanted pregnancies, stigmatization, rejection, grievous injury, and sometimes death, on their victims—who are overwhelmingly female,’’ the report added.

One of the points that became very clear in the analysis of the report was that ‘‘long ignored, wartime sexual violence has become increasingly politically salient in the policy agendas of the international community over the past two decades.”

The first chapter shows ‘’the level of sexual violence worldwide is likely declining, not increasing,  as claimed by senior UN officials’’.

That means that a one-sided narrative was created on wartime sexual violence and when analysing this issue the international community and policy makers need to use more reliable data, background studies and better available evidences.

Merz adds that ‘’the highest levels of reported sexual violence occurred in only 9 percent of the years in which countries were involved in conflict, between 2000 and 2009.’’

So, to create better and effective polices it is necessary a better understanding that wartime sexual violence’s level varies across countries and assumptions of high level of sexual violence in some countries should not be generalised.

The report also shows that countries like Bosnia and Rwanda are examples of the use of rape as weapon of war. However recent studies indicate that sexual violence is no longer applied as war strategy.

Furthermore, domestic sexual violence is the most common case of wartime sexual violence, but it is the most ignored by the international community and policy makers.

‘‘Sexual violence against children in wartime is perpetrated by family members and acquaintances—not strangers or combatants, ’’states the report.

When looking at the impact of war on children’s education, data of 25 countries showed that ‘’during many conflict periods, educational outcomes—counter intuitively —improve on average.’’ Senegal and Democratic Republic of the Congo are cited as examples.

‘’ A global analysis conducted for the World Development Report has actually found that on average education outcomes are increasing in conflict effected countries,’’ added Merz.

The report also showed that the number of deaths during conflicts has dropped in the past 30 years followed by a declined in war sexual violence.

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