The Second Front: The Logic of Sexual Violence in War


Seifert, Ruth. 1996. “The Second Front: The Logic of Sexual Violence in Wars.” Women’s Studies International Forum 19: 35–43.

Author: Ruth Seifert


Mass rapes have occurred in all modern wars, but not until the gender-specific atrocities committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina have they attracted worldwide attention. The household explanations given for rapes in the context of war are that they are a natural occurrence to be attributed to a male anthropology or acts of hordes run wild. This has prevented a deeper probing into the meanings and functions of collective sexual violence against women. The objective of this paper is to identify patterns of war crimes against women and to show that they have cultural functions. They destroy the physical and psychological existence of the women concerned and, moreover, inflict harm on the culture and collective identity of the whole group, ethnicity, or nation under attack. War crimes against women have a symbolic meaning and must be analyzed within the symbolic contexts of the nation and the gender system.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnicity, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Women Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 1996

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