Sexual Violence in Burundi: Victims, perpetrators, and the role of conflict


Year: 2014 HiCN Working Paper No. 172

In this paper we shed light on sexual violence in Burundi in the aftermath of its civil war. By presenting the results of a mixed-method research we discuss five topics: prevalence of sexual violence, a profile of victims, a profile of perpetrators, sexual violence’srelation to civil war and its current legal reactions and challenges. By means of multivariateregression analyses we predict women’s vulnerability to sexual- and gender based violence (GBV) in the context of war compared to everyday life. We find that age, schooling, living in an IDP camp and household wealth before the civil war have significantly different effects on GBV in both contexts. Many uniformed and armed men committed sexual violence during the war, and it appears that today ex-combatants and military continue to do so. From qualitative interviews we find several factors that connect Burundi’s past conflict to today’s violence,among which a weakened solidarity in communities and a problematic integration of ex- combatants in society. Impunity marks life in today’s Burundi, in particular in relation to persisting sexual violence. A thorough reconciliation or adjudication process since the civilwar, as well as today’s difficulties to prosecute and pursue perpetrators, are among the main challenges for countering sexual violence in Burundi.

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