Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeeping Operations in Contemporary Africa

Citation:

Utas, Mats, and Fanny Ruden. 2009. Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeeping Operations in Contemporary Africa. 2. Uppsala, SE: The Nordic Africa Institute.

Authors: Fanny Ruden, Mats Utas

Abstract:

In international peacekeeping operations (PKOs) some individuals are involved in sexual exploitation and abuse of the host country’s population, buying of sexual services and trafficking of prostitutes. Far from being a new phenomenon it goes back a long time, and reports on the issue have increased over the years. All too frequently we read about peacekeepers visiting prostitutes, committing rape, or in other ways sexually exploiting host populations. Some peacekeepers are taking advantage of the power their work gives them, and becoming abusers rather than protectors in situations where the host population is powerless and in dire need of protection. Peacekeepers’ abuse of their mandate is inflicting severe damage on host societies and often results in a number of unintended consequences such as human rights violations, rapid spread of HIV, decreased trust in the UN as well as other international aid agencies, and harmful changes to gender patterns. Women and children, both girls and boys, are especially exposed. Having already suffered from war and instability they risk becoming even more physically and mentally wounded. Peacekeeping operations risk doing more harm than good in African war zones, and if they cannot learn from previous mistakes maybe they ought to stay at home. We do not argue for the latter; rather, we point towards the urgent need to change explicit and implicit patterns and habits in international peacekeeping operations in relation to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in Africa. In this Policy Note we focus predominantly on military staff, but acknowledge that the civilian staff of PKOs, and international aid workers, are also implicated. On the other hand it should initially be pointed out that most PKO staff are not sexual exploiters and abusers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Health, HIV/AIDS, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual livelihoods, Peacekeeping, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Africa

Year: 2009

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