Armed Conflict, War Rape, and the Commercial Trade in Women and Children’s Labour


Farr, Kathryn. 2009. “Armed Conflict, War Rape, and the Commercial Trade in Women and Children’s Labour.” Pakistan Journal of Women’s Studies: Alam e Niswan 16 (1 & 2): 1-31.

Author: Kathryn Farr


This research examined militarized sexual violence and the commercial trade in women and children in twenty three countries with ongoing or recently-ended civil wars. Findings indicate a progressive connection between assaultive violence against women during armed conflict and the commercial trade in women and children for sexual and other labour. Today’s armed conflicts target civilian in their homes and towns, in flight from violence, and in refugee and IDP settlements which are largely populated by women and children. In these wars, women suffer severe declines in their economic and security positions, and are at severely increased risk of sexual assaults by military combatants and numerous other war-related groups. Rebel and militia groups’ demands for sexual and other labour lead to both sexual enslavement and the trade of enslaved women and children. War-traumatized women and girls fall prey to traffickers, and trafficking across borders is carried out with relative impunity. With the expansion of supply and demand, sex industries gain a foothold in developing and transitioning civil-war-torn countries, and retain their prominence in traditional trafficking destination countries in the economic North, the Gulf states, and parts of South and Southeast Asia.



“In Tajikistan, abducted and enslaved women have been used as drug smugglers, as well as trafficked for sex to or through Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.” (12)

“Emboldened and informed by globalization policies that facilitate open borders and free trade, traffickers in conflict areas move their human cargo across borders with relative ease, often using the same routes as for weapons, drugs and other trafficked goods. In some places, human trafficking occurs as a practiced and sophisticated business. In Kosovo, for example, women and girls are trafficked along routes regularly used by a “well-established organized crime” network.” (15)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against women, Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, Sex Trafficking

Year: 2009

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