Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings under International Law

TitleUnrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings under International Law
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLewis, Dustin A.
JournalWisconsin International Law Journal
Date Published03/2009

This article casts light on the international law aspects of a largely unrecognized occurrence in armed conflict: sexual violence against men. The article discusses causes and consequences of such violence, and assesses pertinent aspects of international law. The article argues that, to reduce and prevent sexual violence against men in conflict settings, international law should be interpreted, applied, and enforced in ways that delegitimize the prejudicial and discriminatory conceptions of gender, sex, and (homo)sexuality that often fuel such violence in the first place. Toward this aim, the article highlights why it is necessary to use a definition of sexual violence that encompasses, among other things, violence targeting an individual's imputed, perceived, or actual sexuality. In addition, the article provides a prosecution roadmap, sketching the conventional and jurisprudential standards for sexual violence to be prosecuted as a constituent element of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The article concludes by suggesting two additional ways to enhance protection: treaty drafters should explicitly recognize men as a class of victims, and a postulated jus cogens norm should be expanded to include all forms of sexual violence against men, women, and children.

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