Gender in Armed Conflict -Overview
To conduct a successful campaign we have to explore and evaluate the situation of gender in armed conflict- we have to understand that not all crimes against civilians are reported. Keeping all this in mind, it is necessary to bring to light what we have understood about both the effects of war on gender and their gender roles, as well as the ways in which IHL protects these civilians.
Both men and women, boys and girls all suffer the consequences of violence in armed conflict , but the impact on them is profoundly different in each case. The common element in each articulation of the term is the distinction drawn between differences based on sex and differences based on social assumptions about masculine and feminine behaviors (social constructs).
The perception of men and women places men at greater risk than women during armed conflict. Indeed men are usually less inclined to shoot at women and men are usually more at direct risk in armed conflicts. For example, young civilian males, not participating in armed conflict but present in the area of operations, fit the stereotyped perception of an attacker.
However, even though men can be put at a greater direct risk than women during armed conflict, women are seen to be vulnerable in social and economic positions. They are less likely than men and boys to have access to some of the most fundamental human rights. They are seen to face these consequences both during an post armed conflict. In fact, they are seen as a target, which needs to be destroyed mentally and physically and because women are the cultural bearer of society, if they collapse, then the whole society collapses with them.
Women face various problems, however, they become mostly vulnerable in displacement situations when they are seeking asylum and are in refugee camps. They are not only faced with conflict-related sexual violence but are subjected to socio-economic impacts as they are left behind to hold the household, feed their children and take care of family members. This puts further pressure on their roles during armed conflict.
Conflict-related sexual violence affects both men and women however, the violence against men, including rape, forced sterilization and mutilations are far less common than such crimes committed against women.
Either way, sexual violence has grave health implications both psychological and physical in women and men. Not only are women and men subject to being infected with HIV and many other STDs, but they are subject to bodily damage.
What worsens the situation, is the psychological impact on those victims, where the victim looses all sense of self and feels as if he/she experienced death but they are condemned to continue to live with such terrifying memories. This psychological impact is enhanced through keeping quiet and not speaking about your past experiences and this is mainly due to the social stigma, which hinders the route of gender-based violence to be submitted to judicial systems.
Such violence doesn't have a specific place as it can happen at homes, detention centers, refugee camps and even in front of the public. Women and girls are mainly targeted when they are preforming daily chores such as collecting food water and wood . In certain cases it has been stated the structural design of some refugee camps led to gender violence where latrines and water taps were placed a distance from the dwellings. Women and girls were raped when they visited the latrine or fetch water. Moreover, in certain cases, women have been demanded to perform sexual favors in exchanges for access to food and water.
Understanding the position of men and women in the context of theaters of operations (through appropriate intelligence gathering) will assist in the implementation of policies to ensure the safety and security of men and women not taking direct part in hostilities. This will allow the implementation of the rules of the Geneva Convention to be ratified and help limit the effects of such conflicts on both men and women.