ACLED Data Reports an Overall Increase in Reports of Sexual Violence in Conflict for 2019
Thursday, August 1, 2019 10:55 AM

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) is a mapping project that collects and reports data on political violence throughout Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. ACLED tracks sexual violence committed in conflict or related to conflict, such as acts committed by armed, organized actors. The data does not include sexual acts unrelated to conflict. While sexual violence occurs worldwide in times of peace and conflict, it is used as a strategic weapon in war. Sexual violence is utilized for genocidal and displacement purposes, along with a breadth of militaristic, political, and nationalist goals, including punishment, revenge, and exploitation (Wood).

In June of 2019, ACLED reported that the total number of reported acts of sexual violence in conflict had nearly doubled compared to the same data set from 2018. Approximately 140 events had been reported since June of 2019, which ACLED partly attributed to the rise in violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which typically reports high levels of sexual violence. These acts are often accompanied by lethal attacks. About 95% of sexual violence victims recorded by ACLED are female.

The report notes that the majority of the attacks in Africa and South Asia were committed by political militia and unidentified armed groups, followed by state actors. However, these results are flipped in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Southeastern Europe, and the Balkans where a majority of the reported sexual violence attacks were perpetrated by state actors. Countries with the highest number of reported sexual violence events collected by ACLED in 2019 are: Democratic Republic of Congo, India, South Sudan, Burundi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

It is critical to note that these numbers are a reflection of reported sexual violence. Sexual violence is largely underreported due to backlash or normative concerns.


Compiled from: ACLED Fact Sheet: Sexual Violence in Conflict, ACLED (June 19, 2019); What is ACLED?, ACLED (2019); Wood, Elizabeth, Variation in Sexual Violence during War, Politics & Society (2006).