Rape in war 'a deliberate military strategy' argue researchers

Jun 24, 2010

Since the second world war, the use of rape as a weapon of war has assumed strategic importance, and is now a deliberate military strategy, argue researchers in an editorial published in the British Medical Journal today.

The effects of and during also extend beyond individual victims and are economically, physically, psychologically, and culturally devastating for families and communities, say authors Coleen Kivlahan, volunteer forensic physician for HealthRight International, and Nate Ewigman from the University of Florida.

For example, in recent conflicts, rape has been used as a reward for victory in battle, a boost to troop morale, as punishment and humiliation for both men and women, to incite revenge in opposing troops, to eliminate or "cleanse" religious or political groups, and to destabilise entire communities by creating terror.

A study in the found that 16,000 rapes occurred in 2008 alone, and in South Kivu province, health centres estimate that 40 women were raped in the region daily. In the United Kingdom, 50-70% of female asylum applicants were raped, witnessed rape, or have a credible fear of rape.

Geographical, cultural, religious, political, legal, and behavioural conditions affect the likelihood of the systematic use of rape, explain the authors. For instance, geographically remote locations allow perpetrators to rape with impunity, while the likelihood that women will be raped, shamed, and isolated is increased in cultures with strong traditions regarding virginity, marital fidelity, and genital cleanliness.

Religions with strong beliefs about appropriate female clothing and behaviour also increase the risk that women will be falsely accused of adultery and raped as humiliation and punishment, they add.

The effects of rape and sexual torture on survivors are economically, physically, psychologically, and culturally devastating. They also extend to the family and community.

The international community has mounted a considerable response to the use of rape as a weapon of war, but the authors argue that rape during armed conflict is not simply about military personnel, police, or terrorists.

For example, before 2004, rape assailants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were primarily affiliated with the military; however, after 2004, civilian rapes increased 17-fold while rapes by armed combatants decreased by 77%.

"This pattern suggests a disturbing acceptance of rape among civilians," they conclude. "Rape is the result of the lack of dedicated societal attention to the safety, respect, and prosperity of women in peace time, as well as in war."

Explore further: Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Jurors fail to understand rape victims

Jun 25, 2009

Rape trial juries need better guidance in the courtroom -- and a better understanding of rape victims -- to help them reach their verdict.

Stopping rape as an object of war

Dec 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It is a disturbing truth that sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) is used as a war tactic in developing nations. Silvia Dominguez, assistant professor of sociology at Northeastern University, ...

Disclosing sexual abuse is critical

Jan 19, 2010

Half of sexual abuse survivors wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized, according to a collaborative study from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal ...

Recommended for you

Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

7 hours ago

Each year thousands of students enroll in medical schools across the country. But just how many feel they've been disrespected, publicly humiliated, ridiculed or even harassed by their superiors at some point during their ...

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

15 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

16 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2010
A strategy employed by the Soviets in WWII...
[see the history]
Au-Pu
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2010
Trust a woman to put a conspiratorial slant on this.
Rape is almost always an opportunistic act
Sure some are stalkings and some are familiars but even some of those are opportunistic
rape is always about power and in war the vanquished have absolutely no power therefore some incidence of rape becomes inevitable.
What is Kivlahan's problem?
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (1) Jun 29, 2010
What is Kivlahan's problem?

She knows the history of "total war" of the past century as invented by socialists/communists/marxists