Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is a concerning yet prevalent feature of historical and current conflict. The term encompasses any form of sexual violence associated with conflict, including rape, sexual assault and forced marriage or prostitution. Acts of CRSV have been perpetrated by both military personnel and civilians against men, women and children. The aetiology of CRSV is complex and unique to each conflict and circumstance. It may arise as a deliberate tactic of war or as opportunistic criminal acts at times of the relative lawlessness resulting from conflict. CRSV can also be related to certain sociocultural attitudes surrounding conflict.
CRSV can result in profound medical, psychological and social sequelae for victims and management requires a holistic approach to address these. The global political response to CRSV has been gaining momentum in recent decades. Although the practical reaction to political stances has been limited at times, some consistent messages have arisen from collaborative work between the United Nations and other multinational bodies. Advances have also been made in the judicial response to CRSV.
Due to the widespread nature of the issue, there is the potential for the exposure of Defence Medical Services (DMS) personnel to CRSV. This may occur while operating in a conflict zone or when participating in humanitarian operations. DMS personnel should maintain an awareness of the prevalence of CRSV and of any current political measures in place to tackle it. When appropriate, CRSV should feature in operational medical planning and pre-deployment training to assist personnel in managing any cases they encounter.
- sexual medicine
- genitourinary medicine
- health policy
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Contributors Primary author full contribution.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.
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