Risk Areas

2.5 Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA)

Explanation of risk area

The access that international missions have to basic resources such as food, water and medication has in the past opened door to sexual abuse, i.e. exchange of sex for money or access to food. This involves an abuse of entrusted powers – distribution of resources and keeping of peace – for private gratification.


Case Study: Corruption and UN peace operations

MONUSCO and SEA allegations

A UN report into the actions of peacekeepers deployed with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) detailed sexual exploitation and abuse involving exchange of sex for money (on average $1-$3 per encounter), jobs or food. Sexual exploitation and abuse allegations in MONUSCO and its predecessor MONUC totalled 214 reports, accounting for 45 per cent of all peacekeeping-related sexual exploitation allegations between 2008 and 2013.

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Case Study: Corruption and UN peace operations

UNMIL and transactional sex

One study of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) estimated that almost 58,000 women between the ages of 18-30 years in Monrovia had engaged in transactional sex with a UN peacekeeper during 2012. The researchers estimate a woman’s chance of reaching the age of 25 years old without engaging in transactional sex would be 50 per cent greater if there were no UNMIL troops in Monrovia.

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Indicators & Warnings

Reports of SEA

Unexplained contacts with the host nation population

Incidence of sexually transmitted infections

Reports of mission troops fathering children