Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Against Women During Armed Conflict


Colombini, Manuela. 2002. “Gender-Based and Sexual Violence against Women During Armed Conflict.” Journal of Health Management 4 (2): 167-83. doi:10.1177/097206340200400206.

Author: Manuela Colombini


Sexual and gender-based violence in armed  conflicts lacks visibility and is not fully understood as it is often  labelled as a woman's-only issue. Its gendered nature extends beyond the actual period of conflict, into the period of rehabilitation and reconstruction, carrying with it many physical and psychological problems. The sufference endured by women both during and following the conflict is strictly related to the rooted structural gender inequalities within societies in general.  In situations of conflict women's oppression and abuse further increase their usual subordination. For example, traditional barriers to health care, including the lack of diagnostic  equipment and adequate treatment; the insufficiency of premises for the treatment of survivors; the lack of dedicated venues to seek assistance; poor supplies of essential and specific drugs, together with an inadequacy of health personnel, become even more problematic, and all contribute to poor primary health care. Therefore, understanding the roots of unequal gender treatment, and thus the cultural setting of a community; becomes essential when dealing with the phenomenon of sexual violence. In particular, multidimensional and gender-sensitive health responses to sexual violence should be designed, and services taking into account its multifaceted nature should be provided. This paper examines the causes and health consequences of sexual violence during armed conflict, and proposes policy and programmatic approaches to address these. The first section of the paper discusses the extent of sexual violence within armed conflicts, and explores the linkages between gender-based inequalities in society and sexual violence. The second section presents a review of the existing literature on health consequences of sexual violence. The third and last section outlines policy and programmatic interventions that could help address this problem. The challenge lies in combining different existing conceptual frameworks (that is, reproductive health framework or human rights framework) in such a way that the provision of services takes into account the multifaceted nature of gender-based and sexual violence.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Reproductive Health, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against Women

Year: 2002

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at