Most rape victims in conflict zones are children - report

LONDON Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:12pm IST

Syrian refugee children play as they wave their hands in Sidon, southern Lebanon March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho/Files

Syrian refugee children play as they wave their hands in Sidon, southern Lebanon March 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ali Hashisho/Files

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - Most victims of sexual violence in conflict zones are children who are suffering rape and abuse at an appalling rate, said campaigners who described the attacks as the "hidden horrors of war".

In the worst-affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, children made up more than 70 percent of victims, said a report by charity Save the Children published on Wednesday.

The study contained harrowing stories of children being killed after being raped and of others who were abducted and abused by armed forces and groups. It also said children as young as two were being attacked by opportunistic predators including teachers, religious leaders and peacekeepers.

Many survivors were cast out from society after the attacks.

"It is shocking that in conflict zones around the world, children are being raped and abused at such an appalling rate," said Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth.

"Sexual violence is one of those hidden horrors of war and the damage it wreaks ruins lives."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue and recently met victims in Democratic Republic of Congo with actress and U.N. special envoy Angelina Jolie. The issue will be on the agenda at a meeting of G8 countries' foreign ministers hosted by Hague in London on Wednesday and Thursday.

Save the Children found more than half of victims of sexual violence in conflict zones were children. It cited a study in Liberia, still recovering from a civil war that ended a decade ago, which found more than 80 percent of victims in 2011-12 were younger than 17. Almost all were raped.

In post-conflict Sierra Leone, more than 70 percent of the sexual violence cases seen by the International Rescue Committee were girls under 18, and more than a fifth of those were under 11, the report said. In Democratic Republic of the Congo nearly two-thirds of sexual violence cases recorded by the United Nations in 2008 involved children, mostly adolescent girls.

Save the Children spoke to a girl named Pamela, in Democratic Republic of Congo, who was attacked and raped near a refugee camp where she had fled after her village was attacked.

"I'd been in the camp for three days. I'd gone to collect water, and as I was leaving the water point I met three boys. They grabbed me. One took my legs and the other took my hands. I tried to fight them off.

"After the rape I wanted to leave the house and return home. But the people told my mother and she said I had to stay there. I didn't want a husband because I was still a girl."

Rejected by her community, Pamela was forced to stay with her attacker and become his wife. He abandoned her when she was seven months' pregnant.

(Editing by Pravin Char)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Internal Security

Reuters Showcase

Cost Control

Cost Control

India caps prices of 36 more drugs to improve access - government official.  Full Article 

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba jumps more than 40 pct in trading debut.  Full Article 

Scotland Referendum

Scotland Referendum

Scots spurn independence in historic vote, nationalist leader resigns.  Full Article 

On-Air Gaffe

On-Air Gaffe

TV anchor's number is up after naming China's Xi 'Eleven'  Full Article 

Indian Soccer

Indian Soccer

New league will lift Indian soccer, says Del Piero.  Full Article 

New iPhones

New iPhones

Apple faithful line up for latest, larger iPhones.  Full Article 

Ig Nobel Awards

Ig Nobel Awards

Banana peel study, ugly art research win Ig Nobel spoof awards.  Full Article 

Li Na Retires

Li Na Retires

China's Li Na announces her retirement from tennis  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage