Causes of Conflict Related Sexual Violence

Causes of Conflict Related Sexual Violence


The single strongest predictor of whether a men will commit sexual violence is whether as a child he witnessed violence in his home by a men against a woman[1]. 
Slegh & Kimonyo, 2010  
The reasons for using (conflict related) sexual violence are various; to torture, to inflict injury, to degrade and intimidate, to punish, to destabilize populations or to destroy the cohesion within communities. In the latter instances rape is often a public act, aimed to maximize humiliation and shame[2]. For example, in Timor Leste, Indonesian military repeatedly raped women in front of their families, and forced Timor men to rape Timor women. Ethnic cleansing may be another goal pursued by sexual violence. In Bosnia public rapes were used to instigate the expulsion of entire Muslim communities. In Rwanda women were deliberately raped with the purpose of infecting them with HIV which would eventually wipe out entire generations.
Refugee camps
Although many citizens within conflict zones seek refuge within camps these communities often to not offer the protection sought by the new residents. Research carried out by UNICEF, UNFPA, IRC and UNWOMEN within refugee camps[3], such as the Za’atari Camp in Jordan, highlight the particular dangerous situation for female refugees. Communal areas within the camp, such as paths leading to latrines/showers and kitchens, are proven to be the most risky places when it comes to sexual violence. The majority of the perpetrators of sexual violence are other refugees. Poor lightening and lacking security aggravates the unsafe situation within camps. Not only inside but also outside the refugee camps women are at high risk of being sexually attacked. For example, in Dadaab, Kenya, women usually go far outside the confines of the camp to search for firewood. Research done in this area has shown that almost 90 percent of rapes reported have occurred under those circumstances. In Darfur, Sudan, same trends are reported[2].

[1] UNWOMEN. (2013). Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection among Syrian Refugees in Jordan, with a Focus on Early Marriage. Retrieved on August 22, 2013 from:

[2] UNFPA. (2006). Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in War and Its Aftermath: Realities, Responses, and Required Resources. Retrieved on August 1, 2013 from:

[3] Slegh, H. & Kimonyo, A. (2010). Masculinity and Gender Based Violence in Rwanda: Experiences and perceptions of men and women. Rwanda MenEngage Network; Rwanda Men’s Resource Center.