Rape in War: Challenging the Tradition of Impunity

Citation:

Thomas, Dorothy Q., and Regan E. Ralph. 1994. “Rape in War: Challenging the Tradition of Impunity.” SAIS Review 14 (1): 81–99.

Authors: Dorothy Q. Thomas, Regan E. Ralph

Abstract:

Despite the prevalence of rape in conflicts throughout the world, wartime rape often has been mischaracterized and dismissed by military and political leaders, with the result that this abuse goes largely unpunished. The fact that rape is committed by men against women has contributed to its being portrayed as sexual or personal in nature, a portrayal that depoliticizes sexual abuse in conflict and results in it being ignored as a human rights abuse and a war crime. Documentary efforts reveal where and how rape functions as a tool of military strategy. Soldiers rape to subjugate and punish individual women and to terrorize communities and drive them into flight. Whenever committed by a state agent or an armed insurgent, whether a matter of policy or an individual incident of torture, wartime rape constitutes an abuse of power and a violation of international law.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, International Law, Justice, Impunity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, War Crimes, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against women

Year: 1994

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