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Public Library of Science online article discusses review
What is the evidence of the impact of initiatives to reduce risk and incidence of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict zones and other humanitarian crises in lower and middle-income countries? A systematic review

What do we want to know?

Do programs to address sexual violence in conflict, post-conflict and disasters reduce the incidence or risk of this type of violence?

Who wants to know and why?

Program funders, non-government and governments globally want to learn how best to direct efforts to address this problem and whether any of the programs, guidelines and other initiatives introduced since the United Nations Security Council first recognised the impact of this problem in 2000, are having an impact.   Although there is widespread recognition of the seriousness and extent of this problem, there is a yet little known about what works to prevent, reduce and redress this problem.

What did we find?

Most studies described interventions for survivors in post-conflict settings.  Few addressed prevention or the conflict context. Only one study specifically addressed the disaster setting. Seven different strategies to reduce sexual violence were identified: i) survivor care interventions; ii) livelihood initiatives (presumed to reduce women's vulnerability through financial independence); iii) community mobilisation; iv) personnel initiatives, eg. gender-specific recruitment; v) systems and security, predominantly firewood patrols or fuel alternatives; vi) interventions using a combination of these strategies; and vii) legal interventions.

What are the implications?

  • Implementation of initiatives on the ground to address conflict and crisis related sexual violence remains very limited.
  • Strategies may be more effective when they have multiple components, including survivor care and community engagement.
  • Fuel provision/ patrols and well-enforced programmes to prevent sexual exploitation by peacekeepers may contribute to reducing sexual violence.
  • Risk to women can increase where court processes or other programmes are delivered with inadequate attention to protection, stigma and the risk of retaliation.

How did we get these results?

The review team used a systematic search in electronic data-bases to capture studies from different disciplines and geographical areas, published from 1990 until September 2011.  The synthesis was based on 20 outcome studies and another 20 studies which described only the implementation of programs to provide an understanding about what work is being done on this  problem.

This report should be cited as:

Spangaro J, Zwi A, Adogu C, Ranmuthugala G, Davies GP, Steinacker L (2013) What is the evidence of the impact of initiatives to reduce risk and incidence of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict zones and other humanitarian crises in lower and middle-income countries? A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. ISBN: 978-1-907345-53-1

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