Sexual violence against women in armed conflict is a crime
against humanity, a war crime, and an unacceptable – but, unfortunately,
effective – weapon of war. Raping, sexually assaulting and mutilating, forcibly
impregnating and infecting with HIV/Aids the wives, daughters and
mothers of the “enemy” not only have terrible physical and psychological
effects on the victims themselves, but are capable of disrupting,
if not destroying, whole communities.
It has taken centuries for sexual violence against women in
armed conflict to be outlawed. It was not until 2008 that the international
community, via United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 on
women, peace and security, recognised that rape and other forms
of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity,
and a constitutive act with respect to genocide.
However, sexual violence against women in armed conflict is
unfortunately still common – it was a constitutive feature of the
Balkan wars little more than a decade ago. Today, the main victims
of this crime are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (especially
in Kivu) and in Sudan (especially in Darfur). To this day, thousands of
victims are denied access to justice, reparation and redress. The
lives of the victims remain blighted in many ways while the perpetrators
enjoy almost complete impunity for their crimes.
This is why member states should take a number of measures
to stop sexual violence against women in armed conflict, and ensure
that justice is done each and every time a woman is raped in an
The Assembly also recommends appropriate steps to the Committee
of Ministers, amongst which calling on it to instruct the Ad hoc
Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and
Domestic Violence (CAHVIO) to include in the future Council of Europe
convention the severest and most widespread forms of violence against
women, including sexual violence against women in armed conflict.