Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

How does IHL address sexual violence? Is sexual violence a weapon? A method of warfare? Does it matter whether the victim is a civilian, a combatant, a fighter? A child, a man, a woman? Does IHL require specific strategies to cater for the medical and psycho-social needs of victims and survivors of sexual violence?
 
 
 
 Rape and other forms of sexual violence are prohibited under IHL, in both international and non-international armed conflicts. International criminal law moreover provides for the individual criminal responsibility of sexual crimes’ perpetrators.
 
Yet, sexual violence persists in contemporary armed conflicts as a devastating phenomenon with damaging consequences for victims – women, men, girls and boys – as well as their families and whole communities. Strengthening the implementation of the legal framework remains a challenge to bridge the gap between the law and the reality on the ground.
 
IHL rules protecting persons against sexual violence can be found in The Law chapters on Civilian population, Combatants and POWs and Criminal repression.

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