Latest News

'Irresponsible Report' Making Headlines

11 October 2012

The Human Security Report Project just published their 2012 report on Human Security and it’s already creating quite a storm!

The first e-mails of the morning were from Australia where the papers had, I assume, the advantage of getting the report below before anyone else. It must have generated huge interest as we have been trying to download it all day but it is just not happening! They probably know what we would say!

Read the report.

So, lets be generous and not make judgments until we have had time to really analyse the evidence that the report contains which leads to the following conclusions:

1. There is no reliable evidence

  • to support assumptions that sexual violence in war is on the rise or
  • that rape is increasingly used as a weapon of war.

2. That sexual violence against males in war is largely ignored.

3. That female perpetration of sexual violence is ignored.

4. That there is a huge increase in domestic sexual violence in wartime which is far more pervasive than that perpetrated by combatants.

To be objective let us say this: data on any form of sexual violence in conflict is extremely difficult to obtain for obvious reasons. What we do know is that there is a substantial amount of documented evidence from the “old” conflicts of Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda that there was massive use of sexual violence, which has been adjudicated upon.

In the “new conflicts”, from Libya to Syria, there is sufficient information, even now, to assert that there has been a massive use of rape and sexual violence. So what does the following paragraph, taken from the report, mean?

“Although there are no reliable cross-national trend data on sexual violence in wartime, indirect evidence suggests that its incidence has declined worldwide over the past two decades. It is likely that conflict-related sexual violence decreased along with the decline in the number and deadliness of armed conflicts.”

What a massively wrong assumption!! What is “indirect evidence” when juxtaposed against the testimony and data collected from women, from hospitals et al?

Photo of Senegalese and Malian State soldiers
Senegalese and Malian State soldiers: the Report notes State violence as over-reported

I would agree on point 2. Male rape has been ignored because we are looking at all rapes from a patriarchal, heterosexual framework which ignores gender and misses the truth of rape as a violent act demonstrating power. And, as power relations are gendered it is the male who is normally the perpetrator and is likely to use sexual violence against anything that he wishes to assert his power over.

That largely deals with 2 and the assertion of women as perpetrators…. First, it’s much more nuanced and linked to gendered dynamics as the cases in Abu Ghraib showed, and second, it is superficial to ignore the power dynamics at play when women are involved….. and how many are we talking about here anyway?

And 4? Yes, there is evidence, for example from the DRC, that there is a massive increase in sexual violence in areas which are not actually in conflict. But all this does is show that there is indeed a continuum of violence and counters the assumption in the report that when conflicts end, conflict-related sexual violence generally also stops, or at the very least declines appreciably.

Much more research is needed on the issue of sexualized violence, its causes and how gender plays out in the analysis. We know a lot, we even know a little bit about why men, (and it is mainly men despite what some would like to believe), are able to commit the atrocities that are committed in their homes and in war zones. But we do not know enough and whilst it is good to have provocative studies and different views in the public domain, a report like this I find irresponsible.

It will find support amongst all the gainsayers who will grab onto anything in order to deny the reality of sexualised violence: who do not want to address the political economy, cultures of masculinity and religious fundamentalism of all kinds, which are at the root cause of most of it…. and they do not want to recognize it or address it as it would lesson the power that they enjoy.


Share the post

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

Thank you!

Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

Skip to content