This launch presents a qualitative research study conducted in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan by the ICRC's Centre for Operational Research and Experience (CORE), that explores what men and their communities understand by 'sexual violence' and how it can be prevented.
Drawing on interviews and focus group discussions with almost 200 participants, findings show that sexual violence remains a devastating problem in the urban and rural communities where the study was carried out.
The study explored the myriad of causes or drivers of sexual violence described by communities. Findings highlight socio-economic factors, including displacement, poverty and living in a conflict-affected area with limited economic prospects; external influences, including guns, alcohol, drugs and access to social media and pornography; and a wider, general acceptance of the inevitability of sexual violence and the environment of impunity that reinforces it. Permeating all these explanations – although rarely expressly articulated – are the deeply-rooted cultural, gendered norms that govern societal relations from an early age.
The report provides detailed recommendations and implications for those working to prevent sexual violence, and highlights the need for partnerships and community engagement when involving men – and their wider communities - in prevention activities. The ICRC is uniquely positioned to work with potential perpetrators of sexual violence through its engagement with weapon bearers, and panellists will reflect upon the implementation of the findings in the work of the ICRC and more widely.