Painting a grim picture of the status of children in armed conflict zones, a UN report on Saturday said “widespread and systematic” sexual violence against them has become a feature of all such areas across the world.
“Such violations are often perpetrated in a rule of law vacuum as a result of conflict, and there often exists a prevailing culture of impunity for such crimes,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said in her annual report to the UN General Assembly.
She noted that precise information, which is critical for combating impunity and for programmatic response to such crimes, is difficult to obtain or verify in these zones.
Fear of reprisals and cultural taboos surrounding such crimes are among the obstacles to collecting information about the incidents and understanding the magnitude and scope of sexual violence against children, as well as bringing the perpetrators to justice, Coomaraswamy said.
In her latest report Coomaraswamy said boys are also becoming vulnerable to sexual violence, especially during military operations in civilian areas or during military conscription of abduction into paramilitary forces, as well as in refugees and internally displaces settings and in detention.
“Although cases of sexual violence against boys are sometimes reported, insufficient attention is paid to this particular dimension, and such violations remain largely undocumented,” she said.