Children are uniquely vulnerable to a range of violations in situations of armed conflict. Incidents of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) involving both girls and boys a have been documented in conflicts across the globe. The risk to boys is heightened in certain situations including when they are deprived of liberty for their actual or alleged association with opposing forces, where sexual torture has been used to punish, humiliate and extract confessions from them. There are also documented cases of boys being subjected to CRSV in the context of their association with armed forces and armed groups. Young children and adolescents (boys and girls) are also highly vulnerable to sexual violence when forcibly displaced, or in other situations of extreme humanitarian need.
Although CRSV involving boys is increasingly recognised it remains significantly underreported. As a result, their rights, needs and wishes are often overlooked in prevention and protection strategies and in health and other responses, including in the context of reintegration programs. Boys who suffer sexual violence in conflict may also experience other violations to their rights, for example, losing access to education. Children with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) may suffer increased levels of marginalisation.
The mandate of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was created by the UN General Assembly in December 1996 to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, raise awareness, promote the collection of information about the plight of children affected by war and foster international cooperation to improve their protection.