Sexual Violence Statistics

Sexual Violence Statistics


Rape has become a significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war.
IRC, 2013[1] 
This firm statement has been made by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, former Executive Director of UNFPA, as response to the horrific number of 50.000 rapes reported during the Bosnia Herzegovina war[2] and 45.000 ones during the Serbia conflict between 1998 and 1999[3]. Continuing, it is estimated that during the civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002, more than a quarter of a million women have been victimized by rape. More recently the Syria war has already produced over tens of thousands of rape victims since the battle between the regime and its opponents started in 2011[4], and the number still increases significantly every day. 
Sexual violence prospers wherever there is disorganization, an absence of structure, a lack of hope and takes place across every stage of conflicts, during the flight, within refugee camps and during resettlement.  The end of a conflict situation does not automatically mean the end of sexual violence, as reflected by, for example, the sharp increase of rape incidents in post-war Iraq. The emerging of weak, failed or newly constructed states, the social fragility and war traumas contribute to the subsistence of sexual violence long after conflicts are settled[6]; Moreover, sexual violence against subordinates, such as ones spouse, is an often used way for men to reassert their dominance, to restore their pride and self-esteem which has been shattered by the war and to oppress their deep sense of powerlessness.
“I don’t care about food, I don’t care about a house or money, all I want is to protect my daughters”  says Samira, refugee in the Zaatari camp, Jordan (UN Population Fund, 17 October 2013).

"Initially, rape was used as a tool of war. But now sexual violence is also perpetuated by ordinary people occupying positions of authority."
Dr. Margaret Agama[5]
Non-conflict zones where the humanitarian situation is substandard, such as townships and underdeveloped rural areas, are also prone to sexual violence due to lagging juridical and protection systems. As example, within South Africa, estimates are that every 26 seconds a woman is raped. Although women are acknowledged as being specifically vulnerable to become victims of sexual violence men are also reported as being sexually victimized and are acknowledged as such to an increasing extent. For example, within the last decade sexual violence against men has been reported in at least 25 conflict settings[7].

[1] IRC. (2013). Syria: A Regional Crisis. Retrieved on July 11, 2013 from: 

[2] Halsell., G. (1993). Women’s Bodies: A Battlefield in War for ‘Greater Serbia. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 11. Retrieved on july 28, 2013 from

[3] Couldry, M. & Morris, T. (2007). Sexual violence: Weapon of war, impediment to peace. Forced Migration Review, 27, 1 – 80.

[4] Security Council. (2013). Security Council Adopts Text Urging Targeted sanctions against Perpetrators of Sexual Violence During Armed Conflicts. Retrieved on july 8, 2013 from:  

[5] UNFPA. (2013). Legacy of War: An Epidemic of Sexual Violence in DCR. Retrieved on July 8, 2013, from:

[6] UNFPA. (2012). Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict: Engaging Men and Boys. Retrieved on july 11, 2013, from:

[7] Russel, W. (2007). Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys. Forced Migration Review, 27, p. 22-23.