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Assumptions On Wartime Sexual Violence Challenged By Study

A new study by the University-based (HSRP), released at in New York, finds that there is no compelling evidence to support a host of widely held beliefs regarding wartime sexual violence.

The study, presented by HSRP director , disputes the common assumption that conflict-related sexual violence is on the rise, and argues that the experience of a small number of countries afflicted by extreme levels of sexual violence is not the norm for all war-affected countries.

Key findings include:

  • In more than half of the years in which countries around the world experienced conflict between 2000-2009, levels of reported conflict-related sexual violence were low to negligible.
  • There is no evidence to support frequent claims that rape as a “weapon of war” is widespread, nor that its incidence has been growing.
  • Domestic sexual violence victimizes far more women in war-affected countries than does the conflict-related sexual violence that is perpetrated by combatants.
  • Recent studies show that male victims and female perpetrators may be more numerous than generally believed.
  • The study also finds that the mainstream view of the impact of war on children’s education as highly damaging is incorrect, and that educational outcomes in war-affected countries improve over time despite fighting, even in regions most affected by war.


The complete study is available online at http://www.hsrgroup.org and will soon be available in print.

The HSRP has received funding from the Department for International Development (United Kingdom); the ; the ; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; and the UBS Optimus Foundation.

Simon Fraser University