Sexual and gender-based violence is widespread in conflict-affected environments. The field of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence is active and constantly expanding. Recent research and analysis are drawing attention to the complexity of this form of violence, reflecting a shift away from simplified narratives. They also point to the need for a more inclusive understanding of sexual violence, which acknowledges, for example, male victims and survivors, as well as the experiences and motivations of perpetrators.
The wealth of information, activity and debate that characterises this field can be daunting. This paper offers an introductory overview of conflict- related sexual and gender-based violence, in particular for those who are beginning their involvement with the subject—whether they are civilian, military or police. It examines a number of dominant patterns of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict-affected environments. It surveys a range of causes and motivations that can contribute to the perpetration of this form of violence, and explores persistent gaps and weaknesses in current efforts to deal with such violence. Throughout the report, where relevant, information is provided about what is being done to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, with a sampling of efforts from the international, regional and domestic levels.