Understanding the Impacts: Stories of Women from Different Contexts


What are the impacts of sexual and gender based violence?


  1. Women victims experience an atrophy of justice. The absence of justice exacerbates these persisting problems. Impunity is the norm for most women victims of armed conflict and state violence, including victims of sexual violence. As impunity, stigma, and discrimination persist, women’s confidence and capacity to articulate the injustice they experienced decrease. Like a wasted muscle, women victims lose the capacity and energy to even imagine how to demand the righting of a wrong. Some relegate justice to the after-life, unable to see how to get justice in this life.
  2. The impact of conflict on women and their families is severe and undeniable. Most women survivors live in very poor conditions, and continue to experience discrimination and exclusion. A trust fund written into the statute of the serious crimes court was never established. Typically, they experienced violations of civil and political rights together with violations of their social economic rights. This combination increased their vulnerability, often leaving them preoccupied with simply struggling to survive in the wake of violence.
  3. The loss of family (especially husbands, fathers or sons), destruction of property, lack of access to land and livelihoods, and exclusion from educational and employment opportunities and basic services, all undermined their socioeconomic wellbeing. The impact has often extended over many years, if not decades. This crucial finding, clearly emerging as a persistent and urgent thread running through most of the stories in this report, demands specific assistance to effectively address social and economic needs.
  4. Widows are defined here as a woman who lost a husband or partner during active conflict or to trauma-related health complications in later years. Single mothers are defined as women raising children alone, including survivors of rape, and those abandoned by husbands after experiencing sexual violence. Being a widow or single mother and a survivor of human rights violations makes women especially vulnerable and in need of targeted support.
  5. There is also intergenerational impacts of conflict, demanding a programming and policy response to the trauma, psychological and socio-economic effects especially on children. Children are trapped in violence and poverty, but also provide the inspiration for women to strive for a better future.
  6. Conflict and violations increase the vulnerability of women and the likelihood of domestic and community violence, and other forms of violence that are ongoing and compounding. Women victims are vulnerable to new forms of violence including domestic and community violence.