Reintegrating children born of wartime rape
Today is the International Day of Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, a day aimed at raising awareness of the need to put an end to conflict-related sexual violence and to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the world.
One such group are children born of wartime rape who are often stigmatised by their own communities due to their associations with political, ethnic or religious enemies. Their identity and sense of belonging are contested, which creates dangers for their physical security and emotional wellbeing. Children born of wartime rape are at risk of violence, abuse, abandonment, discrimination and marginalisation, at the hands of both their families and communities.
They often have less access to community resources, family protection and education or livelihood activities, and are likely to grow up in poverty. They can face challenges in registering their birth and their right to citizenship. The experiences of children born of wartime rape can result in a lifetime of detrimental consequences, and the stigmatisation they experience has continued long into the post-war period. Their experiences differ as a result of gender, perceived ethnicity, social and economic status, as well as structural gender discrimination, especially in patriarchal and patrilineal societies. However, there has been little focus on the perspectives and voices of children born of wartime rape and the impact that being born of rape has on them.
Specific efforts to support and reintegrate children born of wartime rape back into their communities have been scarce. Their lack of inclusion in policymaking has been attributed to children born of sexual violence generally being a hidden population, ethical concerns about ‘doing no harm’, and fears around breaking ‘protective silences’, which may have deterred action. The report: Reintegration of Children Born of Wartime Rape, looked at the available lessons learned in the literature about supporting and reintegrating children born of wartime rape.