Explaining Wartime Rape

Citation:

Gottschall, Jonathan. 2004. “Explaining Wartime Rape.” Journal of Sex Research 41 (2): 129–36. doi:10.1080/00224490409552221.

Author: Jonathan Gottschall

Abstract:

In the years since the first reports of mass rapes in the Yugoslavian wars of secession and the genocidal massacres in Rwanda, feminist activists and scholars, human rights organizations, journalists, and social scientists have dedicated unprecedented efforts to document, explain, and seek solutions for the phenomenon of wartime rape. While contributors to this literature agree on much, there is no consensus on causal factors. This paper provides a brief overview of the literature on wartime rape in historical and ethnographical societies and a critical analysis of the four leading explanations for its root causes: the feminist theory, the cultural pathology theory, the strategic rape theory, and the biosocial theory. The paper concludes that the biosocial theory is the only one capable of bringing all the phenomena associated with wartime rape into a single explanatory context.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Secessionist Wars, Gender, Genocide, Justice, War Crimes, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe, Balkans Countries: Rwanda, Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2004

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