Nov. 26, 2012 - During a number of wars on the African continent, sexual violence has been a deliberate tactic, and not a mere consequence of conflict. It is part of a larger campaign to humiliate, intimidate and terrorize civilians. Women are not the only ones impacted, as men have been sexually assaulted during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they often have been forced to watch their wives violated in such brutal form.
The scourge of sexual and gender-based violence has not been an occurrence unique to wartime, but has lingered on in many countries well after armed conflict has dissipated. In Sierra Leone, child soldiers have now reached adulthood, often scarred by their experiences during the war. Former militants and rebels who roam conflict-free zones continue to commit their wartime offenses.
All these instances reflect core issue of gender inequality. In times of peace, men dominate society and politics. During the conflagration of war, it is primarily men who take up arms. From the group dynamics that encourage soldiers to commit sexual violence to the desire to display a corrupt idea of masculinity, rape has become another expression of not just brutality during conflict, but an outcome of unequal gender relations that span war and peace.