Resilience in the context of conflict-related sexual violence: children as protective resources and wider implications

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This article brings a different focus to existing scholarly and policy-based discussions about children in the context of conflict-related sexual violence. It is not about children born of rape or about children directly or indirectly affected by conflict-related sexual violence. What it emphasizes is a linkage between children and resilience. It is significant in this regard that the phenomenon of children seemingly ‘doing well’ despite adversity spawned the early study of resilience, which has now expanded into a vast field of research. This article, however, is not about the resilience of children or the protective resources that they need to thrive. Locating the concept of resilience in the interactions between individuals and their social ecologies, it explores how children – as an important part of these ecologies – can be a significant protective resource for victims-/survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, and, hence, a support for resilience. It develops this argument using qualitative data from interviews with victims-/survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Colombia and Uganda. It further seeks to demonstrate that this linkage between children, social ecologies and resilience has broader implications for transitional justice. Specifically, the article underlines the need for transitional justice processes to give more attention to, and to invest in, the social ecologies – and the protective resources within them – that inextricably shape the lives of individuals affected by violence and human rights violations, including victims-/survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Early online date5 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2021


  • Children
  • conflict-related sexual violence
  • resilience
  • social ecologies
  • transitional justice


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