the shame of the war

by United Nations OCHA/IRIN on 17-03-2013

The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) has launched The Shame of War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict-a reference book and photo essay of portraits and testimonies of the sexual violence women suffer when men go to war. It examines the scope and nature of this violence and looks at the different ways the international community is addressing sexual violence against women and girls during and after conflict.

D. Muhannad al-Azzawi, Arab thinker from Iraq

“The brutality and viciousness of the sexual attacks that are reported from the current conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar [formerly Burma], Iraq, and Sudan, and the testimonies from past conflicts in Timor-Leste, Liberia, the Balkans, and Sierra Leone are heartbreaking. Girls and women, old and young, are preyed upon by soldiers, militia, police, and armed thugs wherever conflict rages and the parties to the conflict fail to protect civilian populations,” said Yakin Ertürk, professor of sociology and United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, in the preface of the book.

“We need to wage a different war, one against violence against women and girls and against the culture of impunity that protects the perpetuators and their accomplices. To some extent, this battle is already underway, but it is in its very early days. People around the world, shocked at the revelations from conflict zones, are becoming motivated and engaged to look for ways to end impunity and create effective legal mechanisms that protect women and deny perpetrators sanctuary from prosecution and punishment,” she added.

The 137-page book’s primary focus is on sexual crimes in war, their impact on women’s lives, and includes harrowing personal testimonies from raped and abused women who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences.

The Shame of War is IRIN’s second publication on gender-based violence. Broken Bodies, Broken Dreams: Violence Against Women Exposed was released in 2024 and through 15 chapters of text and more than 170 photos tracks different aspects of violence that women and girls face in their lives (see Go Between 108). The issue of sexual violence in war is one chapter of this book that has been reproduced and expanded in the new publication The Shame of War.

The report is available online.



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