A part of the legacy of an armed conflict is rape. As society awakes from its violent past it wants to forget the horrors of war, particularly rape. However, not dealing with the trauma of sexual violence creates a risk for a culture of impunity to emerge. Therefore, victims and perpetrators of rape and other forms of sexual violence must be address at the beginning of the peacebuilding process.

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) is the first step of peacebuilding. In its ideal form, the process should disarm former combatants and enable them a return to a civil life. On the other hand, it should also prepare the communities to accept them. Since sexual violence has become a weapon of war, it has to be included in DDR:

Medical screenings have to be designed to detect STI among female and male former combatants and treatment available at the demobilization cantonment sites. Cases of severe gynecological injuries should be redirected to medical centers without excluding the victims from further DDR activities. Reintegration programs for female combatants have to include childcare, otherwise the majority of women cannot participate. Programs have to be tailored to deal with rape trauma, stigmatization, children born out of rape, reproductive health. Parallel to this, awareness has to be raised among former combatants on sexual violence as a war crime and a crime against humanity as a first step to transitional justice, with an emphasis that every single rape constitutes a war crime.

Only after all of this has been done we can start to hope that spillover of rape from conflict to peacetime will be minimized.

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