Violence against women in hybrid warfare deserves special attention. Gender-based, sexual violence is used in hybrid war situations as a tactical weapon to “break” the enemy, Nordmeyer writes.
Rapes demoralize the enemy, while enslavement and forced marriages destabilize communities. Furthermore, women are trafficked to generated revenues. Once the war is over, this brutalization often finds its way into newly emerging societies, for example in the form of rising domestic violence.
In the course of hybrid wars, we increasingly find that non-state actors are also responsible for war and violence. Generally they do not observe the law of war. This has serious consequences, especially for women and children.
Nordmeyer points out that women and children have always been used as weapons of war and treated as spoils of war. But at least since the foundation of the United Nations and adoption of the Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this abuse has been regarded as a massive violation of human rights, and a range of legal instruments have been implemented to prevent it. UN Security Council resolution 1325 is the most comprehensive of these. It provides for the prosecution of sexual violence, the active involvement of women in all phases of conflict management, conflict prevention, and the protection of women and girls.
Although substantial progress can be seen in the implementation of the resolution, the importance of women in peace processes is still recognized by far too few states. Female actors are not adequately involved in peace negotiations, nor are they put forward and appointed in sufficient numbers for peace missions. Moreover, their knowledge and involvement in reconstruction and conflict prevention is given scant consideration.
Nordmeyer joins Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, in calling for the promotion of gender equality in the international community. In her view, this is the only way to prevent violent extremism and protect civil society in hybrid wars. Empowered communities are only possible with empowered women.