Untangling Rape Causation and the Importance of the Micro Level: Elucidating the Use of Mass Rape during the Bosnian War

TitleUntangling Rape Causation and the Importance of the Micro Level: Elucidating the Use of Mass Rape during the Bosnian War
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsClark, Janine Natalya
JournalEthnopolitics
Volume16
Issue4
Pagination388 - 410
Date Published04/2016
Abstract

The widespread and persistent use of rape and sexual violence in armed conflict inevitably raises a fundamental question which numerous scholars have hitherto sought to answer: Why do men (and some women) rape in war? Many existing causal theories operate at high levels of abstraction, due to their emphasis on macro structural factors. This article, in contrast, approaches the issue of causation from a different angle and poses a more specific question: how can the widespread use of mass rape and sexual violence during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war be explained? Based on 79 interviews conducted in Bosnia–Hercegovina between 2014 and 2015 with male and female survivors of these crimes, this research uses the interviewees’ stories to identify and analyse prominent causal factors. It focuses on five factors in particular, namely revenge (personal, mirroring and event-triggered), humiliation, opportunism, group dynamics and entitlement. These factors are in no way unique to the Bosnian war. What makes this research novel, however, is that it explores the functionality and role of these causal factors within the specific micro context and conflict dynamics of the Bosnian war. It thus combines the macro and micro to create a new ‘fusion’ analysis of causation.

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