Letters

Ensuring prevention, protection and assistance for children born of conflict-related rape and their mothers

Dear Editor,

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are deeply concerned at continued acts of rape and sexual violence, resulting in children born of conflict-related rape. In this regard, the Committees call for adequate assistance and support to children born of rape and to protect the full range of rights of women survivors and children for their rehabilitation and reintegration including during the post-conflict transition within a State. Urgent measures must be taken to prohibit the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and protect women and girls from sexual servitude or slavery, military prostitution and forced pregnancies. All States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Convention) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC Convention) are urged to accelerate efforts and work together to address this complex challenge in accordance with their human rights treaty obligations and international humanitarian law.

Children born of rape in the context of conflict and post-conflict situations and their mothers bear the brunt of stigmatization, isolation, deprivation from resources, intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination as well as marginalization by both the parties to the hostilities and their own communities. To date, reparation programs instituted by States have not fully addressed the economic impact of raising children born of rape due to which their vulnerability to future cycles of violence, trafficking and exploitation persists.[2] Children born of rape are often precluded from birth registration and their rights to nationality or citizenship, due to contestation of their identity and lack of formal civil registration systems. These obstacles can adversely affect their exercise of a range of other human rights and impede durable solutions for their integration into society while transitioning to adulthood.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with greater risks of social unrest, attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions and sexual violence rape, the vulnerabilities of children in conflict situation have increased. The suspension of many regular services of judicial, law enforcement and security actors and the release from detention of perpetrators of sexual violence, as part of efforts to curb viral transmission in crowded detention facilities, have contributed to the escalation of a climate of impunity. This poses heightened risks of victimization particularly of children born of rape presenting a larger generational challenge especially as they are often overlooked in post-conflict reparation, reconstruction and reconciliation programs.

– CEDAW and CRC

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