Sexual violence in the context of war and forced displacement

What do we mean by this?

Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) can take many forms and is committed in various contexts. There is great variation in who the perpetrators are, where and to whom the violence is committed, and the intention behind it.

The term "sexual violence" underlines that the committed acts are primarily acts of violence (and not primarily acts of sexuality) which are perpetrated in a specific way, namely by attacking the sexuality or sexual identity of the affected person.

By the term "context of war and displacement", we mean that those affected have experiences of (civil) war and/or flight, and that the sexual violence is somehow related to this experience. Examples of conflict-related sexual violence are:

  • Political prisoners experience sexual violence in detention and/or in the context of torture
  • Sexual violence is perpetrated in the wake of a military conflict by soldiers or civilians
  • People are forced into sexual acts, sexual slavery or prostitution during their migration process
  • Queer, homosexual or trans people experience discrimination and sexual violence which becomes the reason for them to flee

Where does this happen? 

We now know from many countries that sexual violence has taken place in armed conflicts between states, in civil wars, in religious or ethnic conflicts. In its 2021 report on conflict-related sexual violence, the United Nations Organisation lists the following countries in which such incidents of violence have been officially reported:

  • Afghanistan
  • Central African Republic (CAR)
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Myanmar
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

But also in past decades, sexual violence against men was committed in many armed conflicts. These include, for example, the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Iran, Chechnya, Chile, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Kuwait, Liberia, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

Finally, such violence also takes place during the flight and in the transit and host countries, as is known, for example, from reports from Greece and Italy. So far, there is no reliable information on sexual violence against male refugees in Germany.