Understanding and Addressing Conflict-Related Violence Against Women

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Key findings:

Women experience many different types of violence in conflict. Peace and conflict agendas tend to focus on preventing particular forms of violence (for example strategic rape). Increased recognition is required of the different forms of violence which women experience, the ways that they are linked across pre, during and post-conflict contexts and that the inter-relationship in forms of violence needs to be addressed.
Violence during conflict is linked to the position of women in society, and the forms of violence used against them before conflict. But conflict also affects the forms and scales of violence in the following ways:

  • by presenting increased opportunities for state and non-state actors to enact violence;
  • through formal legal impunity associated with conflict, which can create a vacuum in legal and criminal accountability;
  • through implicit impunity due to the status of armed actors;
  • by attracting selective sanctions against some forms of VAW, which may then enable other forms of violence
  • through access to resources and weapons, which will affect the forms and scale of violence;
  • through personal incentives linked to the new-found status of armed actors;
  • by the instrumental use of VAW which includes but also goes beyond an obvious military tactic.

Keywords: Gender; Conflict; Violence Against Women; Liberia, Northern Ireland; Timor-Leste

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