Throughout history, belligerent parties have been using rape as a tool to punish, terrorize and destroy populations. In some cases, armies, rebel groups and terrorist organisations employ sexual violence as a strategy to pursue their objectives. In other cases, commanders allow their soldiers to rape women and girls as a form of reward.
Sexual violence during wartime is often committed in public and by several attackers. It includes gang rape and attacks with objects and weapons, which are inserted in the victims’ vagina or anus. Conflict-related sexual violence takes different forms, such as sexual slavery, forced prostitution, and sexual torture.
Wartime rape affects both, men and women. Men can be victims, and women can be perpetrators.
Under international law, conflict-related sexual violence are characterised as war crimes and crimes against humanity. When it is committed with the intend to destroy a population, such as during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, systematic sexual violence can amount to genocide.