Sexual violence in conflict areas has long been widespread, with grave and devastating consequences for victims and their communities. It may be used as an act of reprisal and to create fear, targeting both the individual and the entire community. Persons deprived of their freedom in relation to armed conflicts and other situations of violence are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. Sexual violence is specifically prohibited by treaty and customary IHL applicable to international and non-international armed conflicts and by international human rights law. Sexual violence has a far-reaching impact. Many victims report truggling with physical, psychological, social and spiritual harms. Sexual violence also deeply affects the family and close relatives of the victim.
In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) decided to expand and heighten its focus on specifically responding to the problem of sexual violence. The objective of the programme is: ‘In armed conflicts and other situations of violence, people are protected against sexual violence. The needs of those affected are holistically and effectively met’.
Women, men, girls and boys may all become victims of sexual violence, with displaced persons and people deprived of their freedom being among those particularly vulnerable. The programme targets victims and their communities. This includes confidential dialogue with the authorities or weapon bearers.
Conflict, Complex Emergency
Material relief assistance and services
Disaster Management Phase