Risk factor: Conflict and Displacement

During conflict, sexual violence including rape can be used as a weapon, to punish, control or humiliate communities. 

The breakdown of law and order that often accompanies conflict increases the risk and incidence of sexual violence.

When crossing borders, women can face assault from bandits or border guards abusing their power, or abduction by traffickers. Families are often separated during conflict, leaving solo women or children at increased risk. In the insecure environment of a refugee or an internally displaced person’s camp, women may be forced into prostitution to support their families, sexually exploited by those in power, or sexually assaulted when collecting water or wood.

If people are displaced they may find it harder to access care due to complete lack of services, distance, transport barriers, lack of finances, language barriers, and uncertainty about the available services and their quality. Additionally, in their new environment, a refugee or migrant is often left feeling isolated and trapped after an attack due to a lack of personal and formal support systems.

These testimonies highlight how women on the move are particularly vulnerable. It is important to mitigate their risk with adapted services and protection measures.

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