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: AbbVie hikes forecast, tops Street expectations

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

AbbVie hikes forecast, tops Street expectations

10 hours ago

The drugmaker AbbVie surprised Wall Street on Friday with a third-quarter performance that turned out much better than expected and a new 2014 forecast that also extends well beyond what analysts predict.

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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.