Protecting Children From War-Based Sexual Violence
Today’s wars are increasingly marked by the widespread and systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. In many conflicts around the world, this weapon is specifically targeted at youth, primarily girls, but also boys. There is also growing recognition of sexual exploitation and abuse perpetrated by peace operations personnel against local civilians; those who are charged with defending the civilian population, can abuse their power and privilege for sexual exploitation, in many cases targeting youth. In the South Sudan conflict for instance, the majority of sexual violence cases verified by the United Nations were committed by the country’s national military.
Growing recognition of these issues has lead to increased training for security sector actors. However, despite the anecdotal evidence that indicates young girls are particular targeted, current training is solely adult focussed. There remain major gaps in understanding – and addressing - the impact of sexual violence on children and youth specifically.
The Dallaire Initiative proposes to develop a practical training package for security sector actors to equip them to deal with wartime sexual violence against children and youth. This training program will be based on a set of three core competencies which participating security sector personnel should understand and operationalize: understanding sexual violence in today’s conflicts and how youth and children and affected, understanding why war-based sexual violence is a security concern, learning how to act professionally and collaborate with relevant organizations including community, humanitarian, health and civil society. The proposed training will follow the same approach developed by the Dallaire Initiative for its training of security sector actors on child soldiers. This approach was developed through rigorous validation and testing with security sector, academic, and humanitarian actors from around the world.