Sexual violence in conflict

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is used as a weapon of war in conflicts around the world, frequently leaving women and girls, men and boys, without access to a remedy, while perpetrators benefit from impunity.

It has been recognised in international law that rape and other forms of sexual violence against both sexes may constitute a form of torture.

REDRESS works with NGOs in Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Nepal, and Peru to ensure the effective documentation of SGBV to bring legal claims against perpetrators, and litigates on behalf of victims of conflict-related SGBV before national, regional, and international venues.

REDRESS has also helped develop and strengthen international standards, with a focus on victims’ right to redress for conflict-related SGBV, contributing to the drafting of the Nairobi Declaration on Women’s and Girl’s Right to a Remedy and Reparation. The Nairobi Declaration, which has been cited since its adoption in 2007 in numerous court decisions and policy documents, underscores the importance of ensuring that reparation measures transform women and girls’ lives and do not return them to the situation which gave rise to their victimisation.

REDRESS challenges SGBV in conflict through projects including:

  • We are litigating a number of cases before national, regional and international mechanisms. These cases address both the crimes and the barriers to justice faced by the victims
  • We provide mentoring to partner organisations in Africa, Asia, and South America to file cases on behalf of victims of conflict-related SGBV, in order to obtain judicial findings of fact that can lead to prosecutions.
  • Following the publication of our report Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations on the responsibility of peacekeepers for SGBV, we are now conducting research on legal accountability for these crimes, part of a larger project with the Child Rights International Network.
  • We published Supplements to the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict in Myanmar and Sri Lanka in 2018, and we are supporting national NGOs to collect admissible evidence of SGBV for use in legal claims.

Recent reports on this issue: