Causes of conflict-related sexual violence

Rape as a weapon of war is used in conflicts around the world. The causes lie in gender norms, impunity and the silence surrounding the topic, which makes sexual violence an effective tactic of warfare.

Large-scale sexual violence has many different causes ranging in extent and complexity.

Widespread conflict leads to the interaction of poverty, lawlessness and struggle for power. Sexual violence often hits women hardest due to their ascribed inferior status to men. Impunity, corruption and desperation create a fertile ground for sexual violence. Under these conditions, rape is a powerful and ‘inexpensive’ tactic of warfare, used by both state forces and other armed groups to terrorise and destroy individuals, families, and communities.

Nancy’s story

Nancy was raped three times in her life. For many years she tried to hide the wounds. But with the support of other survivors she became stronger. Today Nancy is an activist and helps other women who experienced sexual violence during the conflict in Colombia, to speak out.

Dr Denis Mukwege

Dr Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynaecologist and human rights activist from east DRC. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his global efforts to end the use of rape as a weapon of war. Dr Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital and Foundation, and has become one of the world’s leading specialists on treating survivors of wartime sexual violence.

More about Dr Denis Mukwege
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