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10 Wars To Watch (And That The Media Ignore)

Here are 10 ongoing conflicts to keep your eye on when it comes to sexualized violence against women from WMC's Women Under Siege—whether the nightly news is covering them or not. (And while we’re at it, media, here’s your cheat sheet.) In no particular order...

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Burma

Gang-rape, sexual slavery, and physical mutilation have all been used at various times in Burma to terrorize, humiliate, and destroy women—sometimes as part of a larger ethnic-cleansing campaign. There have been increasing international concerns voiced as recently as this month about the use of rape and sexualized violence in the country’s most volatile regions, making the conflict in Burma among the most dire for women. Here, a woman from the Karen ethnic minority.

Central African Republic

Via HDPTCAR

After decades of conflict and instability, the failure of two separate peace processes in 2007 and 2011 ultimately led to the violent overthrow of President François Bozizé’s regime in March 2013 by the Seleka rebel coalition. Internal displacement—especially of women and children uprooted by conflict—is widespread, extensive physical and sexualized violence persists, and reports of forced marriages are on the rise.

Afghanistan

Via ISAF Media

Though levels of brutality have waxed and waned, the conflict in Afghanistan has more or less persisted since a 1978 military coup. Both men and women alike have suffered incredible cruelty over the years, with men tortured and imprisoned under Afghanistan’s Soviet-supported Communist government until the early 1990s, and women denied even the most basic rights under the Taliban, from access to education to the right to protection from domestic violence. Throughout the years of war, forced marriages have been common and sexual abuse of women and of children has been widespread.

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Democratic Republic of Congo

Via USAID/L. Werchick

For many living in this conflict-ridden country, it may be difficult to imagine life without war. While conflict in DRC formally “ended” with a peace agreement in 2003, violence is still so prevalent that the country is still widely referred to as the “rape capital of the world.” A May 2011 study found that the stats of sexualized violence in the country work out to 1,152 women raped every day, 48 women raped every hour, or four women raped every five minutes. That is about a rape a minute.

Mexico

Via Judy Rand

While there is no question that armed conflict has always been linked to the drug trade across Mexico, the escalation of violence over the past several years has been striking. Allegations of femicide, rape, forced disappearances, and sexualized violence—at the hands of both cartels and government security forces—have become increasingly common. Women are being raped, strangled, and tortured, with their bodies mutilated and discarded in desolate locations across the country. Women in Mexico are truly treated as the spoils of war in this enduring state of chaos.

Mali

Via DFID

Armed conflict between government forces and several groups of insurgents has resulted in extensive internal displacement, sexualized violence, and forced marriages. The UN has registered 2,785 cases of gender-based and sexualized violence between March 2012 and May 2013, but a Mali spokesman for the UN has said the real figure is much higher. The fear of reporting attacks, combined with little to no coverage of the violence in the country, has left women in Mali with little recourse. In 2013, only one case of sexual assault linked to the 2012 conflict was going to court, according to IRIN.

Egypt

Via gr33ndata

From the Egyptian revolution of 2011 to the more recent coup d’état in July 2013, the country has faced a period of extreme civil unrest. Clashes between protesters, police, and soldiers, as well as extensive use of sexualized violence and rape, have been characteristic of the crisis. As the revolution began, women were subjected to forced “virginity tests.” Today, two years later, 99 percent of all Egyptian women report being sexually harassed, and 92 say they experienced unwelcome physical contact, according to a study by UN Women.

Sudan/South Sudan

Via European Commission DG ECHO

Initially one of the more widely publicized African conflicts, the situation in both Sudan and South Sudan has been mostly forgotten about by the international press. But the conflicts remain far from resolved. War wages on in regions like Darfur, or Abyei, or the province of South Kordofan, where reports have surfaced of women being taken to bases and gang-raped by soldiers. Cultural expectations of women, and the premium placed upon their “purity,” has led government-sponsored militias to go out of their way to commit rapes and acts of sexualized violence.

Somalia

Via FMSC

Often referred to as a “failed state,” Somalia has existed in varying states of chaos since the fall of its government in 1991. Civil war, extreme famine, and control of most of the country by the armed militant group Al-Shabaab have contributed to this ongoing humanitarian disaster. The threat of rape and sexualized violence remains high in the conflict-ridden areas, and a combination of cultural stigma and low conviction rates leave little incentive for the victims to pursue justice. In the first 11 months of 2012, roughly 1,700 women were raped in Somalia, according to UN research.

Syria

Via Lauren Wolfe

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called Syria “the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the Cold War.” WMC’s Women Under Siege has posted more than 200 reports of sexualized violence against women and men on our crowd-sourced map, but that number encompasses potentially thousands of victims—women, men, and children—raped in prison, at checkpoints, and in home raids. Beyond direct acts of sexual abuse, female refugees have been reportedly forced into survival sex and may be sold into “survival marriages” at young ages for economic and safety reasons.

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