On the occasion of the United Nations Human Rights Day 2022, the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with the All Survivors Project (ASP), published two documents on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) that shed light on how this grave violation specifically impacts boys. The publications, Responding to conflict-related sexual violence against boys associated with armed forces and armed groups in reintegration programmes and Strengthening responses to conflict-related sexual violence against boys deprived of their liberty in situations of armed conflict, developed a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of vulnerabilities based on sex and gender to better inform prevention and response programmes.

Indeed, CRSV against girls, boys, and all children continues to be vastly underreported, and the research documents highlighted how little is known about the firsthand experiences of boys affected by CRSV. The documents underline how boys can face specific vulnerabilities to sexual violence and may be afflicted by grave violations differently from girls, including when detained. Recommendations on how child protection strategies can consider this issue to improve CRSV prevention and response for all children were also provided.

“Of all grave violations against children, conflict-related sexual violence remains the most under-reported violation, and this is particularly true when it affects boy survivors. Sexual violence against children in the context of conflict is also known to be linked to other grave violations. The recruitment and use of children, for example, creates vulnerability to other grave violations and is a site where boys, girls, and all children can endure sexual violence and abuses while lacking access to protective frameworks,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba.

“The specific vulnerabilities and needs of boys require separate understanding and focus to inform gender-inclusive responses to address sexual violence against children. We know a range of negative consequences may arise from the lack of a specific focus on CRSV against boys. This research is a step in the right direction to ensure practical and appropriate measures are put in place, to take note of the needs and wishes of boy survivors in prevention and response strategies,” said Charu Lata Hogg, Executive Director of All Survivors Project.

The two research documents also supported a workshop in November 2022 that gathered experts from the United Nations, international and non-governmental organizations, Member States, and academics. This platform of discussion was co-organized by the Office of the Special Representative, ASP, and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination of Princeton University. A public report underlining the key discussion points from the workshop will be released in the coming months.

“Understanding the gender dimension of grave violations against children in armed conflict, specifically CRSV, will help us to collectively ensure that girls, boys, and all children receive the adequate protection they deserve so that we leave no child behind,” the Special Representative concluded.


For additional information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / vinet@un.org

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