IRRC No. 249

The Protection of Women in International Humanitarian Law

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Since the number of women who actually participated in war was insignificant until the outbreak of World War I, the need for special protection for them was not felt prior to that time. This does not imply however that women had previously lacked any protection. From the birth of international humanitarian law, they had had the same general legal protection as men. If they were wounded, women were protected by the provisions of the 1864 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field; if they became prisoners of war, they benefited from the Regulations annexed to the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 on the Laws and Customs of War on Land.

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