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Les femmes dans les conflits armés : elles sont les premières victimes

pdf mise en ligne :07 01 2008 ( NEA say… n° 59 )

IMMIGRATION > Protection temporaire en cas d'afflux massif de personnes déplacées

Nea say a attiré l’attention de ses lecteurs sur ce phénomène de première importance. "International relations and security Network  (ISN-ETH) de Zürich vient de faire un dossier substantiel intitulé « Gender-based violence in armed conflicts ».

La violence dans les conflits armés touche les femmes différemment des hommes. Une des caractéristiques essentielles est l'impunité à l'égard des violences faites aux femmes dans les conflits armés. Une approche spécifique commence à se  développer au niveau des organisations internationales. L’ISN-ETH de Zürich vient de faire un dossier intéressant à ce sujet riche par son information et. Les concepts qu’il développe. « Gender-based violence in armed conflicts ». Il comporte des données statistiques, des définitions, les travaux des organisations internationales intergouvernementales et non gouvernementales, les recherches académiques, les médias ayant traité du sujet, les documents juridiques comme les résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies ( 1325 et 1820 de 2008)ou la Déclaration de l’Assemblée générale des nations Unies de décembre 1993, ou le traité onventionnel de Rome qui définit le statut du Tribunal pénal international (TPI).


Despite difficulty in data collection, estimates illustrate the scope of violence targeted at women in recent conflicts. In Rwanda, for example, half a million women are estimated to have been raped during the genocide in 1994. In Sierra Leone, 50 percent of all women are said to have experienced sexual violence, including rape, torture and sexual slavery. Approximatley 40 percent of girls and women were sexually abused in Liberia. In the Bosnia-Herzegovina war in the first half of the 1990s, between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped.

Definitions of gender-based violence in armed conflict varies. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the term ‘gender-based violence’ (GBV) refers to violence that targets a person or a group of persons because of gender. For the Committee on the Elimination of Violence against Women "it includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty." For the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the term ‘gender-based’ allows us to understand violence against women in a new context. It refers to the “unequal power relationship between women and men in society.”

Victims of gender-based violence are not only female, even if this corresponds to the common use of the phrase, as women are more vulnerable to this type of violence. Some organizations want to underline that especially women are affected and use the term ‘violence against women.’ But generally, the terms ‘sexual violence,’ ‘violence against women’ and ‘gender-based violence’ are used interchangeably. In recent years, recognition of male-specific violence has grown, but it has not yet been translated into research and policy.

The overarching construct of gender-based violence applies to different environments. The focus on conflict settings emphasizes that GBV increases in conflict-affected situations, when legal institutions and social structures tend to weaken or disappear. This process often starts before the escalation of violence and continues after combat has ceased. Thus, violence committed against women can increase before the actual start of fighting and continue well after it has ended.

Gender-based violence is a longstanding phenomenon, but attention from academia and practitioners only grew in the 1990s. Experts explain this rise with the empowerment of women’s and human rights’ movements.

The first international human rights instrument that explicitly and exclusively addresses violence against women is the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted in December 1993 by the UN General Assembly. In 1998, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) became the first treaty to recognize rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence as a crime against humanity. Since then the ICC and other international tribunals, such as the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR), have charged almost half of all persons indicted with rape or sexual assault, either as perpetrators or in their role as superiors.

The first United Nations Security Council Resolution addressing women in armed conflict was passed in October 2000 (UNSCR 1325). Eight years later, in June 2008, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1820, which demanded all actors in armed conflicts stop using violence against women as a tactic of war.

A widely recognized problem is that gender-based violence in armed conflicts remains largely unpunished. With the militarization of a society, sexual abuse becomes a tactic of war perpetrated against those in the whole conflict affected region. Those acts of sexual violence often remain unpublished and the perpetrator unpunished. This problem has been recognized in recent years, and changes are taking place. Crucial steps were the two Security Council Resolutions and the legal recognition of rape as an instrument of war by the ICC.

In the field of peacekeeping operations, the GBV approach has gained much attention. One example is the UN peacekeeping department, which has developed standards on how to address situations with gender-based violence. They were applied in Sierra Leone, Liberia, DR Congo and Darfur.

Another focus lies on the situation in refugee and internally displaced people (IDP) camps. Women become victims of sexual violence when they search for commodities outside the camps. This problem has gained public attention through the conflict in Darfur. Media and non-governmental organizations report regularly on the widespread violence targeted at female IDPs.

By Nina Bandi
Nina Bandi holds a master’s in political science from the University of Geneva.

Intergovernmental organizations
In-Depth: Our Bodies - Their Battle Ground: Gender-based Violence in Conflict Zones, by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
IRIN is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but its services are editorially independent and its reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the UN and its agencies. This website provides access to the IRIN in-depth report published in August 2004. It provides comprehensive information and analysis on gender-based violence in conflict zones.

Women and Armed Conflict, by WomanWatch
WomenWatch is the central gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the UN system. It is a UN project created in March 1997 to provide Internet space for global gender equality issues and to support implementation of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. WomenWatch is an Initiative of the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE). The website provides comprehensive information and links on gender and women’s issues. It has a special section on women and armed conflict.

This website is a portal created by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on women, peace and security. It is intended to address the lack of consolidated data on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls as noted by Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). This portal serves as a centralized hub of information from a wide variety of sources, with links to reports and data from the UN system to information and analysis from experts, academics, NGOs and media sources.

Nongovernmental organizations
Gender and Conflict, by the International Crisis Group
This page gathers the Crisis Group's work on gender and conflict, including reports with a specific gender emphasis and gender-related recommendations. It also provides links to other relevant resources on the web.

Women and War, by the International Committee of the Red Cross
This ICRC website covers the dangers and suffering confronting women in wartime. It also gives access to the ICRC study “Women facing war,” as well as related resource materials and links to other sites concerning women.

Women's Rights, by Human Rights Watch
This website gives information on the occurrence of gender-based violence in specific countries, such as Sudan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it offers information about Human Rights Watch work on women and armed conflict.

Making Rights a Reality: Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict, by Amnesty International
This link gives access to the AI report on violence against women in armed conflicts that was published in 2005. The report outlines the main provisions of international law, and it specifies the responsibilities of states, armed groups and individuals to protect the rights of women during armed conflict.

Research and academia
If Not Now, When? Addressing Gender-based Violence in Refugee, Internally Displaced, and Post-Conflict Settings - A Global Overview, by the The Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium
This report’s objective is to provide an account of some of the major issues, programming efforts, and gaps in programming related to the prevention of, and response to, gender-based violence among conflict-affected populations worldwide. The publication is composed of twelve country profiles: three each for Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict: Global Overview and Implications for the Security Sector, by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)
This report demonstrates the scope and magnitude of sexual violence in armed conflict. It profiles documented conflict-related sexual violence in 50 countries and it explores strategies for security and justice actors to prevent and respond to sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations. DCAF was founded by the Swiss Government and is one of the leading institutions in the areas of security sector reform (SSR) and security sector governance (SSG).

Women, War, Peace: The Independent Experts’ Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-Building, by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
This report provides examples of women in embattled regions who have been able to overcome the odds and contribute to the safety and well-being of their communities. It covers topics such as peace operations, use of media, reconstruction, health, and prevention.

Take action on women's security
This article from the Guardian addresses the problems with implementing the Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).

Unrelenting attacks on women in West Sudan provoke an international outcry
This New York Times article focuses on violence against women in the conflict in Darfur and international reactions.

Legal documents
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000)
his resolution was the first ever passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.

UN Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008)
This resolution demands all sides in armed conflict stop using violence against women as a tactic of war.

Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (A/RES/48/104)
This declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1993.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
This link leads to the treaty text of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Le dossier comprend également un rapport spécial « Women and peace operations ».

Rappelons que la présidence française du Conseil de l'Union européenne a organisé en liaison avec UNIFEM (United Nations Devlopment Fund for Women) une Conférence (10 octobre) sur la mise en oeuvre des résolutions 1325 et 1820 du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies.   Argumentaire et objectifs de la réunion   (EN)

Appel de l'Unifem: Say NO to violence against women

Le Conseil a également en date du 8 décembre 2008 arrêté des conclusions concernant les violences faites aux femmes dans le cadre de la PESD.