Preventing Conflict-related Sexual Violence

Policy brief

Nordås, Ragnhild (2013) Preventing Conflict-related Sexual Violence, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.

Most policies on conflict-related sexual violence have focused on helping the survivors of such abuse. However, we also need to focus on prevention: how to stop sexual violence from occurring in the first place. The fact that many armed groups manage to effectively prohibit sexual violence shows that prevention is possible. Several routes to prevention are outlined here:

  • Changing norms – including changing how survivors are perceived and treated in their communities;
  • Creating safer spaces – including improving infrastructure and reporting practices;
  • Improving reporting – including protection of witnesses;
  • Ending impunity – substantially increasing the likelihood that crimes of sexual violence will be punished;
  • Assuring accountability – strengthening commander responsibility for acts committed by troops; and
  • Mitigating sexual violence after war – including more systematic and integration of sexual violence prevention in DDR processes and security sector reform.
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