Over twenty years ago, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security expressed concerns that war fuels sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), where “women and children… are increasingly targeted by combatants and armed elements.” The landmark resolution 1325 recognised that impunity for this type of violence against civilians, which may also include men, undermines the prospects for durable peace and reconciliation.  We have seen an escalation in the use of SGBV to target and terrorise populations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of CongoEthiopia, HaitiBurmaSudan, and Ukraine, among others.

Established in 2015 by a declaration of states, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict honours victims-survivors and reaffirms states, non-state armed groups, militaries, police, communities, and humanitarian organisation shared responsibility to prevent and end SGBV in armed conflict. This commitment is vital for gender-inclusive peace, sustainable peace, and survivor-centred justice.  Yet we know from the growing body of research on conflict-related sexual violence that a restorative justice process for SGBV crimes is rare, as is compensation paid to survivors or families of victims who experience SGBV.  Those who perpetrate these crimes know the odds are in their favour to operate with impunity. Terror groups such as the Taliban, Boko Haram, and Da’esh/ Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) understand the power of gender politics, and they use gender politics to target populations, wage campaigns of fear as part of their governance, and incite retaliation that will further escalate violence.  SGBV is an early warning for conflict escalation, it enables the drivers of conflict and may continue after war to shape the trajectory of peace.

Please click here to read the full “The persistence of sexual violence in conflict: Ending the zero-sum approach” article published at Australian Outlook, written by Griffith Asia Institute member, Professor Sara E Davies and Professor Jacqui True.