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Sexual violence used as a tactic of war is uniquely destructive.
It leaves victims with a heavy burden of physical and psychological harm for the rest of their life. Beyond the individual, it damages families and entire communities. By committing conflict-related sexual violence in public, or by coercing family and community members either to witness or take part in atrocities, these crimes impact the whole community, destroying social bonds and relationships. Used as a tactic of war, sexual violence aims to demoralise a community or a whole ethnic group, destroying their resilience and ability to rebuild and recover.
The use of sexual violence in conflict can be prevented and must be prioritised as wholly unacceptable.
More and more, it is recognised that conflict-related sexual violence is not random or merely opportunistic. It is a strategy used by armed groups fighting in conflicts worldwide for a range of reasons: to terrorise a civilian population, to persecute and destroy an ethnic group, as a ‘reward’ for combatants, or for financial gains.
Together with the Global Network of Victims and Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence (SEMA), we fight for a world where sexual violence is no longer used in conflict, and where States hold other States to account, and meet their international obligations by taking concrete actions to prevent, respond to, and repair the grave harms sexual violence causes.
SEMA issues the Survivors’ Call to Action not only to seek improvements in their own lives, but to prevent similar violence from happening to others at risk today and in the future.