Wartime sexual violence has a long-term impact on the lives of victims. If their needs are not addressed adequately, survivors suffer the physical and mental consequences, even after a conflict has ended.
Many societies shun and exclude women and girls who have been raped, because of the shame associated with sexual violence. In the eyes of their families and societies, they have lost their honour. As a consequence, women often lose their job or income. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for example, they are sometimes shunned by their customers who don’t want to buy their fruits and vegetables at the market anymore.
The shame that surrounds sexual violence also affects children born of rape. They are often rejected by their families and harassed by their peers. In countries like Iraq, women carrying children as a result of rape have been killed by their families.
Men who admit to have been raped, also face ostracism, especially when they were assaulted by other men. In some countries, they even risk being prosecuted, since the rape by another man can be seen as a homosexual act, which is criminalised in dozens of countries.
Due to the fear of rejection and stigmatisation, victims often stay silent. They have no recourse to justice and are left with little means to survive.