Dozens of millions of traumatized children are at risk of sexual violence from armed groups, a shock report found.
Save the Children warns that a staggering 72 million children are facing a range of crimes against sexual abuse near a frontline.
Terrible studies using new methods have shown that the risk to children in war zones is almost ten times higher than in 1990.
The charity suggests that the number of documented cases of sexual violence against children – most of them girls – is “the tip of the iceberg” and much higher than previously thought.
Save Children’s Report of War Weapon: Sexual Violence Against Children in Conflict Says Every Sixth Child Near The Front Line Is At Risk.
Researchers fear that of 426 million already traumatized children living near conflict, 17 percent live near armed groups known to have sexual abusers among them.
In alphabetical order, Colombia, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen top the list of countries where abuse is most likely.
Experts say the horrors these children face include rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, sterilization, abortion, mutilation, sexual abuse, and torture.
It also suggests that these crimes are being committed not only by terrorist groups, but also by other armed groups, government forces, and even law enforcement agencies like the police.
The far-reaching study says that over 20,000 cases of conflict-related sexual violent crime have been verified by the United Nations since 2006.
In 2019 alone, there were 749 confirmed cases of sexual violence against children – 98 percent of them against girls.
The number of cases related to state forces, such as in official armies, almost doubled after 2018.
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK, said: “Sexual violence is little reported everywhere, but especially in conflict areas – and especially among children.
“On average, only two cases of sexual violence against children in conflict areas were reported daily in 2019.
“We know, however, that rape and other forms of abuse are increasingly used against children in conflict.
“Official coverage only covers the tip of the iceberg. This is an underreported epidemic.
“There are many more children who are victims of sexual violence that we have never heard of, but who also desperately need support.
“The fact that the number of sexual atrocities committed against children by government forces almost doubled between 2018 and 2019 is shameful.
“Governments and their armed forces should and must do more to protect the most vulnerable in conflict, including children.”
The report also shows that:
* In the past seven years, a greater proportion of armed groups that have engaged in sexual violence in conflict have also been directed against children.
- Of the 54 global conflicts, 22 concern reported use of sexual violence against civilians, while 15 concern armed groups that are specifically reported to have committed sexual violence against children.
- Boys accounted for just two percent of the cases of sexual violence reported by the United Nations in 2019, but have been affected in recent years in conflicts in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Syria.
- In Afghanistan, the majority of cases reported in 2019 were in boys, who are often exploited and enslaved by men in positions of power.
Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said:
“I opened Panzi Hospital in 1999 with the intention of building a center of excellence for maternal health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“I could never have imagined that some of my first patients were not working mothers and their newborns, but babies who had instead been raped.
“The youngest survivor I have ever treated was only six months old when she was attacked.
“The fact that there are over 72 million children around the world today living near armed groups that use sexual violence against minors is simple and completely unacceptable.
“The international community can and must do more.”