Rape During War is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence

TitleRape During War is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsWood, Elisabeth J.
EditorBergsmo, Morten, Alf Butenschø Skre, and Elisabeth J. Wood
Book TitleUnderstanding and Proving International Sex Crimes
PublisherTorkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher

Social scientists are increasingly documenting and analyzing the variation in the patterns of wartime sexual violence, particularly temporal variation of the form, frequency, targeting and purpose of such violence. In this chapter, the author first introduces key concepts, including distinctions among different dimensions of violence. She then briefly summarizes recent research documenting patterns of wartime sexual violence. After showing that many approaches in the published literature do not account for the observed variation - indeed, many predict more sexual violence than the tragic levels observed - she advances a theoretical framework that focuses on the internal dynamics of armed groups. She then analyzes the conditions under which armed groups do not engage in rape, those under which they engage in strategic rape, and those under which rape emerges as a practice - namely, a pattern that is not ordered, but is tolerated, by commanders, and that occurs where there are no strategic benefits as well as where there are. Throughout the chapter, the author draws on recent findings from social science literature, some of which is not yet published. She concludes with some tentative policy implications of this analysis.

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