An Element of Genocide: Rape, Total War, and International Law in the Twentieth Century


Schiessl, Christoph. 2002. “An Element of Genocide: Rape, Total War, and International Law in the Twentieth Century.” Journal of Genocide Research 4 (2): 197–210.

Author: Christoph Schiessl


The rape of women during wartime and genocide serves several functions. Beyond the purely sexual aspect, soldiers use rape not only to dominate and demoralize women, but also their male relatives, friends, and neighbors. In addition, a group power develops that has no comparison to civilian life, enlarging the power of men alone. Despite attempts to limit total war and genocide in the 20th c., until the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were formed in the 1990s, rape did not play an overly important role in international law regarding warfare. The Hague Conventions and the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials did not even mention violence against women, until the Fourth Geneva Convention finally included rape into its regulations.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, International Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Women

Year: 2002

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