The Feminist Times
Woes of Children Born of Wartime Sexual Violence
Children born of wartime sexual violence live and often die at the margins of the already
marginal section. They are mistreated by their own communities due to their association with political, ethnic, or religious enemies. In a patriarchal society, they are not viewed as viable members therefore it is not uncommon for these children to struggle with their identities, violence, abandonment, discrimination, and marginalization. Despite significant numbers, these children and their special needs are often invisible in the deliberation of war-affected children. their existence is limited to recognition of rape as a weapon of war, a tool of genocide, and gross human rights violation during war times. Many of these children are either aborted before birth or killed in infancy, some who survive beyond their formative years, end up as child soldiers, child laborers, and sex slaves, and are continuously exploited in the cycle of war and peace.
When wars end, the most common aspiration of internal and external actors is in the
development of a new society with human rights culture. Which would prevent gross human rights violations in the future. The first step is building new legal and political institutions to protect human rights. This is important to break with the past, stabilize society, generate popular confidence, and ensure gross violations of human rights do not recur. On the surface the building up of new legal and political institutions might seem favorable, however, bringing militants to peaceful settlements and reintegrating them into the system, might add to the vulnerability of children born of war-time rape. Another problem could be that the rights of the biological mothers and their children might not reconcile like the right to abortion. The universal nature of human rights also forces us to reckon with the other side of the rape i.e. rights of the perpetrator.
Rape and children born of sexual violence are not mentioned in peace accords, in most of the cases, war-time sexual violence is not officially recorded. This reflects the facile nature of the peace process, where disarming militants is far more important than addressing their crimes and bringing justice to the victims. The lack of official records disables the victims of war-time sexual violence from getting any aid from the newly established regime in the future.
Rape as a military strategy is used to an extent that removing war rapists from streets post-war is nearly impossible. Only a small number of war rapists are apprehended. Most of the war rapists are entitled to new life, livelihood and identity. If the pragmatic decision of integrating militants is not made then the war and the atrocities that come with it will
continue. In this political pragmatism, the rights of the victim of sexual violence and children born of it, are often compromised.
The children born of war may provide a road map for more radical social changes like
relationships among rape, patriarchy, and culture. It pushes us to broaden our perception of war and peace. To fully incorporate children of war-time and develop human rights culture, it is imperative to emphasize on education mechanisms, public health, and addressing economic and social violence, in the transition plan.