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  • Shreya Sinha


By- Anjali Joji, 3rd Year Student at Amity Law School, Amity University, Noida


Protection of women and children has always been a prime concern of state and non-state actors, but unfortunately, it remained only in papers and hardly applied in practical life. Therefore, women and children remain delicate organs of the society who are prone to be aimed and attacked during the occurrence of unfortunate events like armed conflicts. Though it is claimed by the governments that they indulge in wars and armed conflicts for the sake of its citizens, but in the end, though inadvertently, citizens are the most maltreated ones, principally women and children who are not self-subsistent.

Armed conflicts are the result of disagreements arising between parties owing to their contradictory perspectives on a subject matter, which eventually paves the way for violence amongst the parties and mass violation of human rights. Armed conflicts are categorized as International armed conflict and Intra-state armed conflict wherein under former the conflict is between different countries and in latter, the conflict is between government and non-state actors. The brunt of such conflicts befalls fiercely upon women and children as they are non-combatant civilians devoid of care and protection. Victimization of women and children through murder, rape, sexual abuse, forced disappearance, torture has been in vogue in certain countries to bring an end to a particular community or culture. Women and children are easy prey for not just the unscrupulous adversaries of the conflicts; instead, even the peace-keeping forces leave no stone unturned in maltreating civilians. The ordeal suffered by a 13-year-old Manipur girl who was raped by two Indian soldiers depicts the egregious situation wherein women can’t escape the brutality of men, whether uniformed or non-uniformed.

Women shoulders double burden during armed conflicts, as on one end they struggle to be the breadwinner for the whole family and at the other end they have to keep themselves protected from the unfortunate inevitable part of war i.e. rape, mutilation of sexual organs, forced pregnancy, and prostitution. Women and young girls are the primary targets of opponents as it hits two targets with one arrow i.e. humiliation of women which shall recede the moral and emotional strength of male combatants and causing the civilians to migrate in fear. In 1994, when the Rwandan genocide occurred, Tutsi women were targeted by the majority Hutu ethnic group as a means to ostracize the minority Tutsi group. Such inhumane acts leave an adverse impact upon women, especially young girls who get traumatized by it.

Children are also victims of the adversities created by armed conflicts. It hinders the development of children by posing threat to their safety, survival, health, and education. Armed conflicts are detrimental to the interests of children, as it not only carries away their fundamental right to live and grow in safe environments, but also leaves them injured, disabled, traumatized, exploited, orphaned, imprisoned and at times killed. Children are not only made to participate in conflicts by recruiting them as child soldiers, cooks, messengers, suicide bombers, also are made witnesses of deaths, rapes, tortures, and displacement of family members. The armed forces take advantage of the vulnerabilities of children and entice them to pick up drug dealings, street fights, forced prostitution, weapon deliveries, and explosive activities in consideration of financial assistance.

The most common visuals during armed conflicts are genocides, the devastation of properties, and displacement of civilians. In the process of displacement, asylum seekers and refugees undergo severe hardships as they usually get segregated from their family members and end up in foreign lands unequipped with the most indispensable things such as food and shelter. The instances of Syrian ongoing civil war since 2011 and the Rohingya Refugee Crisis are proof enough of the repercussions of armed conflicts upon the civilians, principally upon women and children.