Middle Eastern Countries Top Depressing Statistic on Children at Risk of Wartime Sexual Violence

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22 March 2021

Middle Eastern Countries Top Depressing Statistic on Children at Risk of Wartime Sexual Violence
Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

​PRIO has conducted a study for Save the Children estimating the number of children at risk of wartime sexual violence. The results can be found in the newly published report "Weapon of War: Sexual Violence Against Children in Conflict". It is estimated that 72 million of the 426 million children living in conflict zones, or one in six, live 50 kilometers or closer to conflicts where armed groups or forces have perpetrated sexual violence against children during the last year. According to the report, Middle Eastern countries Iraq, Syria and Yemen have the highest shares of children at risk of wartime sexual violence, alongside Columbia, Somalia and South Sudan.

​Out of all the countries in the study, Yemen is the one with the highest share of the total child population at risk of wartime sexual violence. A staggering 83 percent of all children in the country face this risk. The corresponding numbers for Iraq and Syria are 49 percent and 48 percent, respectively. Moreover, the Middle East is the world region in which a child has the highest probability of living in a conflict zone with reported sexual violence committed against children by conflict actors, with the probability being 16 percent. This is markedly higher than for other regions, as the corresponding numbers for Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas are 3 percent, 2.3 percent, 2.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

The report presents the very first quantitative analysis of the risk of sexual violence against children in conflict for the period 1990–2019. Estimates for the period are based on a new update of the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) dataset and are part of the PRIO Conflict Trends project. The researchers who conducted the study for the report, Robert Nagel (Georgetown University), Ragnhild Nordås (PRIO and University of Michigan), Gudrun Østby, Siri Aas Rustad and Andreas Forø Tollefsen (PRIO), have also published a policy brief on the topic.

Read the full Save the Children report here.

Read the PRIO Policy Brief here.

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