Some studies, however, are breaking this silence. In 2007, an extensive survey by Global Rights of Afghan women, for example, found that almost 90% had experienced either forced marriage or at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse. And, recently, at the Population Association of America Annual Meeting, a new study on violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo documented the high levels of violence there. Although the underlying article is embargoed, the abstract notes that “[a]pproximately 1.69 – 1.80 million women report being raped in their lifetime (407,397 – 433,785 in the last 12 months), and 3.07 – 3.37 million women report experiencing intimate partner sexual violence in a country of approximately 63.23 – 66.97 million.”
As these studies make clear, gender security in the post-conflict context is a rich concept that extends beyond physical security to include civil, political, economic, and cultural security for men and women, boys and girls. It includes formal and enforceable legal rights as well as opportunities to participate in the economic and political life of the country.
[This post is primarily drawn from our forthcoming book, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Dina Haynes, and Naomi Cahn, On the Frontlines (OUP 2011).]