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Sexual violence in war time is a grave and dehumanizing act. From ancient wars to modern conflicts, as populations suffer the pang of guns, women and other vulnerable groups endure untold additional harms. These harms include, but are not limited to sexual violence, manifesting as coerced undressing, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, involuntary abortion, compulsory sterilization and undesirable prostitution.  They have left behind indelible mental and physical scars on the victims thereby violating their fundamental human rights. Côte d’Ivoire could not escape this sad reality during the country’s armed conflicts as many women were subjected to sexual atrocities. International Jurisprudence and United Nations Resolutions prescribed that such crimes vest on victims the right to rehabilitation. Therefore, this research examined the effectiveness of the rehabilitative measures put in place for the female victims of sexual violence in the Ivorian Western region armed conflicts from 2002 to 2012.

The study adopted a qualitative design employing semi-structured interviews guide to collect information from victims, witnesses and government officials of Western Côte d’Ivoire. Purposive sampling and snowball techniques were adopted in the selection of respondents facilitated by the officials of the Ivorian Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Data were content-analyzed and presented thematically with victimology, inevitability of sexual violence in armed conflicts and feminism serving as theoretical frameworks.

The findings showed that the modus operandi of the Ivorian fighters in the perpetration of sexual violence ranged from forced separation of couples to gang rape in village rape houses, from roadblock rapes to sacrificial rapes. The victims who included infants, teenagers, and old women were traumatized, polyvictimized and revictimized. Many of them vented their feelings through anger, self-defense, isolation and suicide. Both international and local communities responded to the victims’ plight with the Ivoirian Government providing legislative, judicial, administrative and social reparative measures. Yet, these responses were inadequate and fraught with challenges such as the non-implementation of international treaties, flaws in the Ivorian  laws, under-reporting of crimes, poorly conducted investigations, denial  of victims’  rights by the traditional justice system, and lack of access by  some of the victims to the reparative bodies.

The study concluded that the haphazard implementation of rehabilitative programs had left the victims traumatized and ostracized from their families and communities as they are unable to engage in regular community affairs. Thus, the thesis recommended that the United Nations monitor the rule of law in the country. The Executive, through its Ministries of Women Affairs and Defense should ensure that reparative machineries be brought closer to the victims. The Legislature needs to enact laws affirming the UN guidelines for the compensation of victims and the Judiciary should train its personnel to deal appropriately with the sensitive nature of sexual violence. Côte d’Ivoire and the international community need to ensure that the effective rehabilitation of victims is attained.

Keywords: Armed conflicts, Côte d’Ivoire, Sexual Violence, Rehabilitation, Women’s rights.

Word Count:  467



Content                                                                                                                                    Page

Title Page                                                                                                                                  i

Certification                                                                                                                              ii

Dedication                                                                                                                                iii

Acknowledgments                                                                                                                    iv

Abstract                                                                                                                                    v

Table of Contents                                                                                                                     vi

Acronyms                                                                                                                                 xi

Codes, Statutes and Declarations                                                                                            xiii

Cases                                                                                                                                            xv

Appendices                                                                                                                              xvi


1.1       Background to the Study                                                                                           1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                                                          3

1.3       Objective of the Study                                                                                               4

1.4       Research Questions                                                                                                     5

1.5       Justification for the Study                                                                                          5

1.6       Scope of the Study                                                                                                    6

1.7       Methodology                                                                                                              7

1.7.1    Research Design                                                                                                         7

1.7.2    Collection of Data                                                                                                      7

1.7.3    Ethical Consideration                                                                                                 8

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms                                                                                 9

1.9       Synopsis of Chapters                                                                                                  10


2.0       Introduction                                                                                                                12

2.1       Literature Review                                                                                                       12

Content                                                                                                                                 Page

2.1.1       Concept of Sexual Violence in Situation of Armed Conflicts                                12    Meaning of Sexual Violence                                                                                    12    Patterns and Forms of Conflict- Related Sexual Violence                                      15    Legal Interpretation of Sexual violence in Armed Conflicts                                   21

2.1.2       Effects of Wartime Sexual Violence on Women                                                     25    Physical Effects                                                                                                       25    Psychological Effects                                                                                              27   Socio- Economic and Cultural Effects                                                                    29    Death as a Result of Wartime Sexual Violence                                                       32

2.1.3       Women’s Rights in the Context of Wartime Sexual Violence                                33    Women’s Rights are Human’s Rights                                                                      34    Right to Life                                                                                                                        35    Right to Freedom of Expression                                                                              35    Right to Education                                                                                                  36

  • Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights                                                                 36    Right to Personal Dignity                                                                                        37    Right to Humanitarian Protection                                                                            37

  • Right to Reparation                                                                                                 38

2.2         Theoretical Framework                                                                                             40

2.2.1      Victimology Theory                                                                                                  41   Explaining the Victimology Theory                                                                          41   Expectations of Conflict-related Sexual Violence Victims                                      45

2.2.2      Inevitability of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts Theory                                   49   Inevitability of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts                                               50   Paradigm Shift: Sexual Violence is not inevitable                                                    62

2.2.3      Feminist theory                                                                                                         68   Brief Overview on the Origin of Feminism                                                             68   African and Radical Feminism                                                                                69   African Radical Feminist Theory and Wartime Sexual

Violence                                                                                                                   71

Content                                                                                                                                  Page   Feminist theory Gaps in explaining Wartime Sexual Violence                              72



3.0       Introduction                                                                                                                74

3.1      The Denunciation of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts                                         74

3.2      Legislative Measures Dealing with Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts                   76

3.2.1    International Customary Laws                                                                                   76

  • International Humanitarian Laws                                                                               77
  • International Criminal Rules                                                                                       79
  • International Human Rights Regulations                                                                   80
  • UN Resolutions and Actions                                                                                      82
  • Regional and National Laws                                                                                      85
  •  Gaps in  the Legislative  Measures Related to Sexual Violence in Conflicts             87

3.3       Prosecuting Wartime Sexual Violence                                                                        89

  •  International Courts Decisions                                                                                   89
  • Regional Tribunal Pronouncements                                                                            92

3.3.3    National Courts                                                                                                           92

3.3.4    Gaps in Prosecuting Wartime Sexual Violence                                                          94




4.0      Introduction                                                                                                                101

  • Description of the Area under Study and the Fight in the Western Côte d’Ivoire     102

4.1.1   The Area under Study                                                                                                102

4.1.2   The Conflict in Western Côte d’Ivoire                                                                       103

  •  Wartime Sexual Violence in Western Côte d’Ivoire                                                  109

4.2.1   The Reality of Sexual Violence in the West during the Armed Conflict                   109

4.2.2   The Modus Operandi of the Violence                                                                        114

4.2.3   The Targeted Women and Girls                                                                                  125



Content                                                                                                                                  Page

4.2.4   The Perpetrators                                                                                                          129

4.3      Conclusion                                                                                                                  133



5.0     Introduction                                                                                                                  134

5.1     Sexual Victimization of Women during Western Côte d’Ivoire Wartime                   134

5.1.1  Victimized and Polyvictimized women                                                                        134

5.1.2  Revictimized women                                                                                                    136

5.2     Impact of the ill treatment on women                                                                          142

5.2.1  Physiological trauma                                                                                                     142

5.2.2  Psychological trauma                                                                                                    144

5.2.3  Rights violated                                                                                                              146

5.3     Reactions of the Traumatized Rape Victims                                                                147

5.3.1  Anger                                                                                                                            147

5.3.2  Auto Defense                                                                                                                148

5.3.3  Silence                                                                                                                           148

5.3.4  Isolation and Relocation                                                                                               150

5.3.5  Suicide                                                                                                                          150




6.0      Introduction                                                                                                                 152

6.1      Government Reparative Measures                                                                               153

6.1.1   Legislative Measures                                                                                                    153

6.1.2   Judicial Decisions                                                                                                        161

6.1.3   Administrative Actions                                                                                                166

6.2      Special Domestic Entities Reparative Actions                                                170

6.2.1   Actions of Communities                                                                                              170

6.2.2   Churches Welfare Programs                                                                                        172


Content                                                                                                                                  Page

6.2.3   Individual Voluntary Actions                                                                                      172

6.3      Non-Governmental Organizations (Ngos) Reparative Assistance                               173

6.3.1   Assistance to Victims                                                                                                  173

6.3.2   Creation of Awareness in the Communities                                                                175

6.3.3   Challenges to NGO Actions                                                                                        176

6.4      International Community Interventions towards Reparation                                      177

6.4.1   The Creation of Human Rights Division in UNOCI                                                   177

6.4.2    Financial Support and Restoration                                                                             177

6.4.3   Trainings                                                                                                                      178

6.5      Conclusion                                                                                                                   179



7.1     Summary                                                                                                                       181

7.2     Conclusion                                                                                                                    186

7.3     Recommendations                                                                                                        186

7.4     Contribution to Knowledge                                                                                          189

7.5     Areas for Further Studies                                                                                             190

REFERENCES                                                                                                                                                   191

APPENDICES                                                                                                                  203













AFJCI:            (French acronym) Association of Ivorian Female Lawyers

CEDAW:        Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

CI:                   Côte d’Ivoire

CONARIV:    (French Acronym; Commission Nationale pour la Réconciliation et l’Indemnisation des Victimes. English Version: Ivorian Commission for Reconciliation and Indemnification of  Victims)

DEVAW:        Declaration on the Elimination of all forms Violence against Women

ECOMOG:     Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group

ECOWAS:      Economic Community of West African States

HIV:                Human Immune-deficiency Virus

ICC:               International Criminal Court

ICTY:              International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

ICTR:              International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

DPKO:            Department of Peacekeeping Operations

DRC:               Democratic Republic of Congo

IHL:                International humanitarian law

IPS:                 Inter Press Service

IRIN:              Integrated Regional Information Networks

J.Int. L:           Journal of International Law

MONUC:        United Nation Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo

NGO:              Non-governmental organization

OCHA:           Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OFACI:           French acronym: Organization des Femmes Actives de Côte d’ Ivoire;

English version: Organization of Active Women of Côte d’ Ivoire

PAJEF:            French acronym: Projet d’Appui et d’Accès à la Justice pour les Enfants et les Femmes Victimes d’Abus en Côte d’Ivoire, English version: Project providing help to women and children in their access to justice.

SCSL:             Special Court for Sierra Leone

SRSVAC:       Special Representative for Sexual violence in Armed Conflicts



UDHR:            Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UFHB              French Acronym: Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny,

English version:  Félix Houphouët-Boigny  University

UNDP:             United Nations Development Programme

UNFPA:           United Nations Population Fund

UNICEF:         United Nations Children’s Fund

UNIFEM:        French Acronym: Fonds des Nations Unies pour la Femme ( English: UN Women)

UNHCR:         United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNICEF:        United Nations Children’s Fund

USAID:          United States Agency for International Development






















1863    United States Army Regulations on the Laws of Land Warfare, later called the Lieber


1907     Hague Convention

1948    Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

1948     Universal declaration of Human Rights

1949     Geneva Conventions

1949     Additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions Relating to the Protection of Victims of

International Armed Conflicts

1984     Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or


1966    International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights

1966     International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

1979     Convention on the Elimination of all Discriminations against Women

1993    Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEDAW)

1993    Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

1994    Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

2002    The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

2006    Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CPPED

1981    African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights

2003    African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa

2007     Nairobi Declaration on Women’s and Girls’ Right to a remedy and reparations.







1325 (2000), UNSC Resolution

1820 (2008), UNSC Resolution

1888 (2009), UNSC Resolution

1960 (2010), UNSC Resolution

2106 (2013), UNSC Resolution

2122 (2013).  UNSC Resolution



2000   Constitution of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

1981    Code Penal Ivoirien (Ivorian Penal Code)



















Prosecutor v. Delalić et al. (Čelebići case), Judgement, Case No. IT-96-21-T, International

Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), 1998

Prosecutor v. Anto Furundzija (Trial Judgement), IT-95-17/1-T, International Criminal Tribunal

for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), 1998.

Prosecutor v. Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic IT-96-23-T& IT-96-23/1-   T (Trial Judgment, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 2001)

Prosecutor v Akayesu (Jean-Paul), Trial judgment, Case No ICTR-96-4-T, ICL 90,  (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), 2 September 1998).

Prosecutor v. Alex Tamba Brima &Ors – Judgment ( SCSL-2004-16-A ) [2008] SCSL 23 (22 February 2008)

Berenson-Mejia v. Peru, Judgment (IACtHR, 25 Nov. 2004) ( Inter American Court of Human Rights, 2004)

Abdullah Aydin v. Turkey (57/1996/676/866), (Selected judgments of the European Court of human rights, 1966)
















Appendix                                                                                                                                  Page


I           Interviews Guides and Report of the Key Informants.                                                 203

II         BUHREC Ethical Clearance.                                                                                        249

III        Letter from the Researcher to the Ministry of Solidarity, Family, Women

and Children                                                                                                                  250

IV        Letter from the Ivorian Ministry of Solidarity, Family, Women and Children

to Man’s Regional Director                                                                                           251

V         Letter from the  Man’s Regional Director of the Ivorian Ministry of Solidarity,

Family, Women and Children to the local offices of Tonpki, Guemon and Cavally    252























1.1       Background to the Study

Sexual violence is the most common form of gender violence. It is considered by many societies as a gross violation of women’s rights. Sexual violence perpetrated in times of peace is aggravated in times of violent conflicts.[1] From ancient wars to modern conflicts, the dehumanization and chastisement of a conquered people have included sexual assault against the enemy’s women, and sometimes its men. However, there are more incidents of women subjected to sexual violence in armed conflicts than men. The evil is perpetrated at various levels, macro, meso, and micro.[2] Some eminent scholars, such as Heineman and Vikman, assent that sexual violence is inevitable in all armed conflicts and as soon as war starts, women and girls are targeted.[3]

Wartime Sexual violence against women encompasses various forms such as coerced undressing, forced nudity, rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, unwanted pregnancy, forced marriage, involuntary abortion, compulsory sterilization and undesirable prostitution.[4] Fighters and other individuals use the availability of arms as an “opportunity” during the breakdown of rules and social norms to attack women of all ages and walks of life including babies, girls, and women as old as eighty years.[5]

It has been observed that the effects of these atrocities on the lives of women persist. For victims of sexual violence in armed conflicts, when the guns are silent, their war continues as they struggle with both physical and psychological injuries.[6] Assessing the overwhelming effects of this unbearable situation, Cammaert strongly declared that “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.”[7] Similarly, Ban Ki-Moon affirmed that “Violence against women is a crime against humanity, no crime more brutal.”[8]  Thus, national, regional and international bodies are making some efforts to combat the scourge but the perpetration is still visible in almost all conflicts in the world.

It is within this confused state of affairs in conflicts that the Côte D’Ivoire (CI) crisis occurred.  It was ten years of political unrest, escalating inter-ethnic tensions and violence that marred Côte d’Ivoire’s former reputation for stability and threw the country into a number of crises.  There were two waves of armed conflicts, one set off in 2002 and the other, an aftermath of the presidential elections in 2010. Both led to massive population disturbances, displacing about thousands of people on each occasion.[9] During the conflicts, fighters assaulted several women sexually. The worst-hit areas were the western administrative regions of Cavally, Guenon, and Tonpki, that had the highest concentration of arms. It was often referred to as the “Wild West” by Non-governmental Organizations and journalists.[10]  Women endured the hardest of the conflicts with the presence of fighters on all sides including mercenaries from neighboring countries especially Liberia. Usually, women’s fate was either to be killed or to be raped.

According to reports by several international and national NGOs,[11] sexual violence on women trapped in the Ivorian conflict zones was not only unremitting, but became so pervasive and systematic as to have reached dreadful levels of brutality and inhumanity. Higonnet reported that victims spoke of brutal sexual assaults on wives, sisters and daughters, that husbands, brothers and fathers were forced to watch or commit incest. Some were pulled off from transport vehicles and raped en masse. Fighters from both sides had also inserted guns, sticks and other objects into their victims’ genitals. Numerous women were captured and subjected to sexual slavery in rebel camps where they endured different forms of sexual abuse over prolonged periods of time. Resistance to captors was commonly met with awful punishments or death. Some sex slaves, daunted by their captors and other circumstances, felt helpless to escape their life of sexual slavery.[12] Also, the period of active armed conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire is over, however, Human Rights Watch disclosed that there are still cases of sexual violence related to the Ivorian armed conflicts perpetrated by former soldiers, even by peacekeepers.[13]

To address this situation, the Ivorian Government took some legislative and administrative measures. Also, the country adopted a four-year (2008-2012) action plan with regards to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The UN resolution was the first to address the impact of conflict on women during the conflicts and post conflicts periods. The resolution called on all states to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse.[14] Notwithstanding those efforts, it seems that the measures remain mere resolutions leaving a big gap between de jure and de facto. In Cote d’Ivoire, the war may be over for the majority of the population but for the victims of sexual violence there is no difference.[15]


1.2       Statement of the Problem

It is observed that Ivorian women are still struggling with the consequences of the atrocities perpetrated against them. Some victims are even contemplating suicide. They are stigmatized and rejected by spouses and sometimes expelled from their communities. Therefore, victims have on their hearts, more than the scars of their unfortunate past.  Moreover, there are hindrances to the full rehabilitation of the women, categorized as victims of sexual violence in the Western region of Cote d’Ivoire. While it may be easy to attribute the failure of effective rehabilitation to government’s letdown to provide legally responsive measures to the needs of the victims, though there are women’s rights provisions in the Ivorian law, it seems that the enforcement of these laws is ineffective, leaving these women at great risk. Furthermore, according to the UN Security Council report, sexual crimes during the Ivorian conflicts are under-reported and under-investigated.[16] Thus, the magnitude of the ills perpetrated is not fully evaluated.

Also, there is no record of victims pursuing their cases in courts which may be due to the costly legal fees, the ignorance of their own rights, the shame and stigmatization attached to sexual violence.[17] In rare situations, when victims summon courage to speak out, there are other challenges that they face while seeking justice; the prosecutions of sexual violence are slow or inexistent. Thus, victims are of the view that they are forgotten and that sexual violence is a neglected issue in Cote d’Ivoire.[18]   How can these victims, who are waiting for justice see that justice is done, and how can these victims receive adequate rehabilitation for the atrocities committed against them?   Thus, the dilemma of women due to the conflicts that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in which their fundamental human rights were grossly violated and denied. These are the issues that this study seeks to explore in order to offer some recommendations for the justice and effective rehabilitation of the victims of sexual violence in Ivorian wartimes.


1.3       Objectives of the Study

The general objective of the study is to examine the rehabilitative measures put in place for the women whose rights were violated by being subjected to varying forms of sexual violence during the armed conflicts in the Western Cote d’Ivoire.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. examine the scope of sexual violence in armed conflicts and the extant international legal mechanisms established to address the problem of conflict-related sexual violence;
  2. identify the peculiarities and dynamics of wartime sexual violence committed against women in the Western Region of Cote d’Ivoire;
  3. appraise the trauma of the women and their rights violated during the perpetration of conflict-related sexual violence in the Western Cote d’Ivoire;
  4. assess the appropriateness of  the legal steps adopted by the intervening bodies to respond to the plight of victims in the Western Cote d’Ivoire.


1.4       Research Questions

The fundamental inquiry of this research is based on the rehabilitative measures put in place for the women whose rights were violated during the perpetration of sexual violence in the Western Cote d’Ivoire’s armed conflicts. This vital interrogation generates the following specific questions:

  1. What is the scope of sexual violence in armed conflicts and what are the extant international legal mechanisms established to address the problem of conflict-related sexual violence?
  2. What are the peculiarities and dynamics of wartime sexual violence committed against women in the Western region of Cote d’Ivoire?
  3. What is the extent of the trauma experienced by women and to what extent were their rights violated through the perpetration of sexual violence during Cote d’Ivoire wartime?
  4. How appropriate were the legal steps adopted by the intervening bodies to respond to the plight of victims in the Western Region of Cote d’Ivoire?


1.5      Justification for the Study

Women and girls in the Western Cote d’Ivoire who were sexually violated during the country’s armed conflicts are still waiting for justice. They have not yet received adequate rehabilitation for the atrocities committed against them. Therefore, this thesis seeks to address these issues with the expectation that the Ivorian government and other intervening bodies will initiate and sustain necessary steps to correct the wrongs perpetrated against female gender. This study is significant for the victims to showcase that the world is not blind to their plight.   Moreover, this work is important for the Ivorian government in its enforcement of national laws and fulfillment of her international legal obligations; it can serve as a basis for the government’s drive to establish cases and laws to help victims of sexual abuse in armed conflict. Lastly, it is a tool for further research, a contribution to existing truth-seeking and initiatives for supporting and recognizing conflict-related sexual violence as a woman-rights violation in other conflict areas in the world.


1.6. Scope of the Study

The study is delineated to the period of armed conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire between the years 2002–2012.  In 2002, the country joined the war zones of West Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone with a failed coup. In 2007, the belligerent parties signed the Ouagadougou political ceasefire agreement, but unfortunately it did not stop the conflict as there were still spots of conflicts throughout the country, the presidential election was postponed six times. Furthermore, in 2010, a disputed election between the current President, Allasane Ouattara and the former president, Laurent Gbagbo, erupted in another rebellion.

During these periods of fights and up to 2012, it was reported that sexual violence was perpetrated against the enemy women and men; nevertheless, women represented the majority of victims. Their fundamental rights were grossly violated therefore, the study focuses on sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls in Ivorian conflicts and post-conflicts situation.   The Ivorian region under review is the western part. The zone comprises the “Cavally, Guemon and Tonpki”. The region experienced the most serious sexual abuses that occurred during the war. The area had more perpetrators such as the national armies, the rebels and the mercenaries of the neighboring countries, than the rest of the country. Mixed groups of Liberian and Sierra Leonean fighters operating as mercenaries in support of both the Ivorian government and rebel forces were responsible of the prevalent sexual abuses.

The scope of this work, therefore, comprised women whose rights were violated during the perpetration of sexual violence in the 2002-2012 Western Cote d’Ivoire armed conflicts.  However, for a better understanding of the concept of sexual violence in armed conflicts, mentions of the different war zones in the world are made.



1.7       Methodology

In this section, the researcher indicates the research design, the procedure of data collection and the ethical principles followed during the research.


1.7.1    Research Design

The methodology of this research is qualitative in nature. The research gives a systematic description of wartime sexual violence, how it constitutes women’s rights violation and what can be the best method for the rehabilitation and compensation for the victims.

1.7.2    The Collection of Data

The collection of data is threefold.  First of all, data are gathered using library to get a desk study analysis of available scholarly literature on the circumstances and situations that resorted in the commission of sexual violence in armed conflicts. The library research is based on two sources: the primary source is centered on the International Human Rights Laws and Treaties, the International Humanitarian Laws, the International Criminal Laws, the discourse of the International Jurisprudence and the United Nations Resolutions. The secondary source is based on international and national non- governmental organizations’ reports on one hand and on the other hand, the countries action plans, books, articles, journals, research studies and press releases.

Secondly, the qualitative method was buttressed by semi structured interviews with the victims, witnesses and actors (women groups’ leaders, human rights activists, chiefs of communities and government authorities). The interviews were conducted in the three main areas of the Western region of the country which are   the Cavally, the Guemon, and the Tompki. Some victims and witnesses were selected among the populations of the following towns of the three areas under study: Man, Danané, Toulepleu, Blolequin, Duékoué, and Guiglo.  Lastly, field observation was done during the same period in which the interviews were conducted, with the observer’s role being supplementary to the interviewer’s role.




1.7.3    Ethical Consideration

The interviews were conducted with a victim-based approach in compliance with the ethical standards for research. Care was taken to ensure that victims do not experience further trauma in recounting their experiences and exposing them to physical risks; the researcher took into consideration the safety and security of interviewees before, during and after the discussion. Moreover, the researcher used the “Do No Harm” principle established  by ethical organizations such  as  the” WHO Ethical and safety recommendations for researching, documenting and monitoring sexual violence in emergencies,” the “Babcock University Health Research Ethics Committee”  and  the “International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict guide.”[19] “Do No Harm” principle is established in order to investigate and document information of sexual violence in a way that capitalize on the access to justice for survivors, and reduces, as much as possible, any negative impact the documentation process may have upon them. It requires researchers to be always polite, respectful and attentive. It demands researchers to be especially aware of the cultural expectations.  Thus, in the field, the researcher took particular care not to appear judgmental, disapproving or disbelieving at any point, either verbally, through the use of body language or facial expressions.

Each interview began with an explanation of the purpose of the survey and a request for verbal informed consent to participate in the survey. The participants were informed that the purpose of the investigation is to find out what women go through in war times. In addition, confidentiality of the survey data was protected in several ways. All witnesses and victims were interviewed individually.  Most interviews were generally held in secured locations agreed upon with the informants to ensure safety and alley their fears of reprisal attacks. The interviews were mostly conducted in French since the country under review is a francophone country and the researcher speaks and writes French language fluently. Finally, the findings, (library works, interviews and observations) concerning the country under review were content-analyzed and interpreted in three chapters of this research paper (chapters four, five and six). Conclusions were carefully drawn.  Pragmatic, action-oriented recommendations were put forward to alleviate the sufferings of sexual violence victims in Cote d’Ivoire armed conflicts.


1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

Armed conflicts: The term is used to designate situations of war and crisis. The most authoritative definition of armed conflict is contained in the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeal Chambers decision on jurisdiction in the TADIC: “…An armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force between states or protracted armed violence between government authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within the state”.

Jus in bello is a Latin term which means that actions in war should be just and fair. Jus in bello includes two principles: dissimilarity and proportionality. Dissimilarity between civilians and soldiers, identification of the legitimate targets; proportionality defines how much power could be used.

De facto means a state of affairs that is true in fact. In this case study, it is referred to as the rehabilitation of victims which should be effective in reality.

De jure means a state of affairs that exists just in theory. Various laws are established to control behavior in war; the major challenge is the enforcement of the law.

Perpetrator is a person who commits an illegal, criminal, or evil act. The perpetrators, in this study, are the rebels, pro-government forces, mercenaries from Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ivorian police, UN peacekeepers, authorities who condoned the evil act.

Sexual Violence in this study refers to sexual violence in conflicts and post conflict settings, sexual abuse, and sexual assault.

Victims are women and girls. Generally, armed conflicts affect women and girls who represent the majority of victims of human rights violations.

Western Region of Cote d’ IvoireCavally, Guemon, Tonpki.

Women:  All female beings, babies, girls, adults and old.  This definition is necessary because Perpetrators do not discriminate when it comes to perpetrating sexual violence in violent conflicts.


1.9       Synopsis of Chapters

The study is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one consists of the background to the study; it specifies the statement of  the problem, formulates the objectives, sets the research questions, signifies how important the study is for the victims, the communities and for the government of Cote d’Ivoire at large and determines the scope of the study. It is also necessary to state that the methodology is discussed in this part of the study.

Chapter two reviews the literature on sexual violence in armed conflicts, in general, its patterns; its consequences on the lives of women, the legal interpretation of wartime sexual violence and the violation of  women’s  rights in regard to the perpetration of the evil. In addition, chapter two deals with the theoretical framework.  Three theories are discussed; the first one is the “victimology theory” describing how women subjected to wartime sexual violence are victims of gross violations of their fundamental rights. The second one is the “inevitability of sexual violence in armed conflict theory” and the third one is the “feminist theory” so relevant for this study in treating the cases of female victims of violence.

Chapter three studies the extant international legal mechanisms established to address the problem of conflict-related sexual violence, its effectiveness and its gaps. The discussion is based firstly on the denunciation of the evil by women rights activists; secondly on the legislative measures put in place at the national and international level to curb the evil; thirdly on the judicial procedures instituted by the regional and international courts to prosecute the criminal act; and lastly on the reparations measures set up by the United Nations for the wartime sexual violence victims.

Chapter four describes the magnitude of the conflict-related sexual violence in the Western Cote d’Ivoire, the scope and nature, the particular forms of sexual violence used by bandits, the motivations of the criminals and the categories of the targeted victims.

Chapter five explicates the trauma of the females who were not only victimized but also polyvictimized and even revictimized sexually. Moreover, this chapter discusses how the violence inflicted on women annihilated their fundamentals rights.

Chapter six critically examines the rehabilitative measures established by the national, regional and international bodies in response to the ills perpetrated against women during the Cote d’Ivoire crisis. This chapter also analyzes how the Ivorian rehabilitative measures have been effectively executed from the office where resolutions are made to the village where the victim resides. It explores how victims are actually enjoying their rights to retributive and restorative justice.

Chapter seven, the last chapter of the thesis deals with the conclusions, summary and pertinent recommendations.

[1] Heineman, Elizabeth, Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones: From the Ancient World to the Era of Human  Rights, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

[2]  Ibid

[3]  Heineman, Elizabeth, Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights,  (University of Pennsylvania Press 2011); Vikman,  Elisabeth, Ancient Origins: Sexual Violence in Warfare, (Routledge,  Taylor & Francis Group, 2005).

[4]  Kundrus, B. & Mühlhäuser,R. & Zipfel, G. The Pervasiveness of Sexual Violence in Wartime. (A workshop by International Research Group Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, Hamburg Institute for Social Research,  2008).

[5]  Ibid

[6]  Jones, Ann, War Is Not Over When It’s Over: Women and the unseen Consequences of Conflict, (Metropolitan Books, 2010);  Leatherman, Janie, Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict,  (Polity, 2011).

[7]   Cammaert, Patrick, Commander of the United Nations Mission,  peacekeeping forces in the Eastern  Democratic Republic   of Congo (MONUC, 2008)

[8]     Ban Ki- Moon,  No crime more brutal, (New York Times, 2009).

[9]   Human Rights Watch, Trapped Between Two Wars : Violence Against Civilians in Western Côte D’Ivoire,  (Human Rights Watch  Report, 2003)

[10]  Human Rights Watch, Afraid and Forgotten, Lawlessness, Rape, and Impunity in Western Côte d’Ivoire , (Human Rights watch Report, 2010); Henderson, Artis, Lawlessness reigns in Ivory Coast’s ‘Wild West’ , (Associated Press Bostom, 2010).

[11]  International Rescue Committee, Human Right Watch, Amnesty International, United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire ,  International Federation of Human Rights, Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights Organizations known as the Regroupement des Acteurs Ivoriens des Droits de l’Homme.

[12]  Higonnet, E. “My Heart is Cut: Sexual Violence by Rebels and Pro-government Forces in Côte d’Ivoire ” (Human Rights Watch Report, 2007).

[13]  Pender, Elizabeth, Côte d’Ivoire : Peace Process Fails to Address Sexual Violence, (International Rescue Committee, 2007).

[14]  Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, United Nations Office, Cote d’Ivoire National Action Plan, (PeaceWomen, 2007).

[15]  Amnesty International, Sexual violence and other human rights abuses in Côte d’Ivoire  must stop, (Amnesty International Report, New York , 2011).

[16]  Ban Kin-Moon, Sexual violence in armed Conflicts United Nations, (Security Council report, 2014).

[17]  Amnesty International, Côte d’Ivoire : Targeting Women: the Forgotten Victims of the Conflict, (Amnesty International Report, 2007).

[18]. Ibid

[19]  World Health Organization, Department of Gender, Women and Health, Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Researching, Documenting and Monitoring Sexual Violence in Emergencies, (World Health Organization Press, Switzerland, 2007); Babcock University Health Research Ethics committee, (NHREC/ 17/ 12/2013) Accessed  on June 16, 2014;  International Protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict. (Report from Foreign & Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom,  2014), Accessed on  June 16, 2014.   The first of its kind, is the product of the wisdom and experience of hundreds of people worldwide, a collaborative work of over 200 gender and sexual violence experts, survivors and organizations launched in June 2014 during the first ever global summit on sexual violence and armed conflicts held in London England the contents were “field tested” in countries such as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo before publication.




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