GIWPS Statement on CRSV and 16 Days of Activism

During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) is spotlighting the need to combat the global scourge of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).

Where violence is raging, sexual violence is often perpetrated. While reporting and documentation of CRSV have improved, for each instance that is reported, it is estimated that as many as 20 other cases go undocumented.

In Sudan, there are alarming reports of widespread rape and sexual violence perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces as well as reports of kidnapping and sexual slavery. Attacks appear to target women because of their ethnicity and their work advocating for the human rights of Darfuris.

In Ukraine, rampant sexual violence by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians has been described as “the most hidden crime” of the conflict by Natalia Karbowska, Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Development for the Ukrainian Women’s Fund. Last year, Karabowska informed the United Nations Security Council that “Although the full scale of conflict-related sexual violence is not yet known, human rights activists and law enforcement agencies estimate that hundreds of cases have been committed not just against women and girls, but also men and boys and people of other gender identities.”

In Israel, survivors, medical personnel, and civil society representatives have described appalling accounts of sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israelis during the brutal October 7th attack. According to Hadas Ziv, Policy and Ethics Director of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, “What we know for sure is that [sexual violence by Hamas] was more than just one case, and it was widespread, in that this happened in more than one location and more than a handful of times.”

Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity” are crimes against humanity and can amount to war crimes. Wherever they occur, whether during wartime or peacetime, acts of sexual violence must be fully investigated, and perpetrators must be held accountable.

Governments must ensure that women, men, girls, and boys are protected from gender-based violence in all its forms and that perpetrators are held accountable.

To protect civilians from CRSV, GIWPS calls for:

  • Funding for the investigation and prosecution of these crimes wherever they occur
  • Implementation of international frameworks like the Women, Peace and Security Agenda
  • Research to identify drivers, document cases, and advance new solutions to better equip states, NGOs, and multilateral agencies with evidence-based tools to prevent CRSV
  • Capacity building of government organizations and practitioners to address CRSV
  • Outreach and education that equips the next generation of foreign policy professionals to address CRSV through programs like GIWPS’ graduate certificate in Gender, Peace and Security, which offers a course on preventing and combatting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

This statement was last updated on December 11, 2023.