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The Nexus Between Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Times of Conflict

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In its 2018 report on conflict-related sexual violence1 the UN Secretary-General reiterated the importance of addressing the nexus between conflict-related sexual violence and trafficking in human beings for purposes of sexual exploitation in conflict. In this article we will explore this nexus from a psychological and a legal point of view. During conflict the climate of impunity and the extreme contrast between the mighty and the powerless offers an optimal setting and inevitable ground for sexual violence. In general, but in particular during conflict, being victimized by sexual violence once can put individuals at risk for similar or other forms of sexual re-victimization. For the victim who endured sexual violence, context hardly matters for its psychological impact. Therefore, in accordance with the UN Secretary-General report, from a psychological view there is no justification for a clear-cut distinction between conflict-related sexual violence and trafficking in human beings for purposes of sexual exploitation in conflict. Yet, from a legal perspective, this differentiation does matter: the legal definitions form the basis for the prosecution of perpetrators on the one hand and for access to particular rights for victims on the other. This article should be seen as a first exploration into the nexus between both crimes, when it comes to the impact on the lives of the victims/survivors, the definition of the crimes, and the resulting access to rights for victims/survivors of these crimes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Trafficking and Human Exploitation (JHTE) serves as a forum to discuss and debate the legal and policy issues involving prevention, intervention, investigations, prosecution, individual, state and corporate responsibility, and the actual codified offenses, their application in practice, subsequent judicial interpretation and any ramifications emanating therefrom. As the mass perpetration of trafficking and human exploitation only appears to continue, the need to research, understand and clarify these laws and their use in practice is paramount.

    The JTHE is primarily concerned with publishing high quality legal articles and significant case notes from domestic, regional and international jurisdictions. However, this journal will also consider interdisciplinary submissions and book reviews.

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