"Sahar, three, and her sister Hanan, eight, were forced to marry. Their parents claim that they had no choice but to do so to be able to feed the rest of the family. Hanan wanted to go to school and not get married, but her father forced her to marry. Her mother-in-law beats her and, when she returns home, it is her father’s turn to beat her." - Displaced children in Amran, Yemen
Sahar and Hanan are just two of the many victims of the consequences of war and conflict on women and girls. In this case, it's about the women who are left to fend for themselves when their men are fighting in a war, already dead, or simply can't make enough money.. In many cases gender inequality, being already present in their countries, made it impossible for these women to earn their living by working. This causes many families to go at far extents to feed themselves, making situations like that of Sahar and Hanan very common. Girls, especially, drop out of school to help to keep the family afloat by having to do things like marrying a man way older than them. Compared to girls in other situations, girls in countries affected by conflict are 2.5 times likelier not to be in school. But the problems don't end there.
In several areas in South Sudan that have experienced war and conflict for the past years (not even counting any other places), 33 percent of the women and girls have had to deal with sexual violence by a non-partner. Many of them reported increased frequency and brutality.
And this was the data from just some conflict zones in South Sudan. All over the world sexual violence on women is used as a weapon in war. Many news sites even report that it's more dangerous to be a woman in a conflict zone than a soldier. Women's bodies get weaponized as a war strategy. They get stripped of their dignity and forced to do horrible things with horrible people, ostracizing them from their own community. According to the United Nations, violence against women and girls in conflict areas has increased by 63 percent.
As far as actions against this kind of violence, not much has been done. The United Nations has the possibility to take action by, for example hitting perpetrators with travel bans or having their financial assets frozen. But because many countries with these kinds of conflict zones don't acknowledge sexual violence as something that can be sanctioned, not much is happening. Besides that, we could wonder whether such punishments are enough for the terrible things that these people have done to women. As you can see the world has a long way to go.
If you would like more information about how war and conflict have an impact on woman, please be welcome to our event; The forgotten victims of conflict: The impact of war and violence on women.
For international women's month, we will be organizing an event regarding the often undiscussed impacts of war on women with a variety of speakers leading this discussion.
(exact location, time and date are soon to be found on our social media)