Rape in War: Challenging the Tradition of Impunity


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


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

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.