The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict highlights the need to protect civilians against sexual violence in conflict. The Campaign urges governments to prioritize the protection of sexual violence survivors against future attacks. In many cases, comprehensive security sector reform is needed to ensure government forces do not commit crimes of sexual violence in conflict. In countries like Democractic Republic of Congo, the government has been incapable or unwilling to stop army forces from using rape as a war tactic.
Survivors of rape and sexual violence have unique protection needs that are compounded in recognized conflict zones. Armed forces are obliged to protect civilians from harm in conflict – but often fall short in their duties. Regrettably, survivors are often exposed to repeat attacks due to insecurity, institutionalized sexual violence, or domestic violence.
Survivors of sexual violence require protection in many forms. Attaining justice is as imperative as physical safety, medical attention, and psychosocial support. Continual protection is often required from recurrent attacks, the backlash of local authority, and even familial rejection or abuse. Survivors must also receive support for their safe reintegration back into their community. Above all, survivors must be able to receive support without fear of further victimization.
Groups continue to speak out about the need to protect survivors of sexual violence from further attacks. A recent report from the Women’s League of Burma details the Burmese military’s use of rape in conflict – and calls on the Burmese government to better protect women living in conflict zones. Human Rights Watch recently released a report drawing attention to the escalating sexual violence in Somali refugee camps by militia. The report urges the Somali government to immediately adopt meaningful reforms to combat armed forces’ use of sexual violence. Women’s groups around the world continue to be at the forefront of providing protection to survivors of sexual violence and advocating for their increased protection.