Sexual Torture of Political Prisoners: An Overview


Agger, Inger. 1989. “Sexual Torture of Political Prisoners: An Overview.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 2 (3): 305-318.

Author: Inger Agger


Not much is known about the repressive use of sexuality against political prisoners. It is important to gain a better understanding of the trauma involved in sexual torture for treatment purposes. On the basis of clinical experience with refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America, and the collection of mainly unpublished material on the subject, a theory of the psychodynamics of sexual torture is proposed. It is claimed that this method of torture is especially traumatic, as it is characterized by a confusing and complex ambiguity containing both libidinal and aggressive components, against which the victim has difficulty maintaining a psychological defense. Hence, his or her core identity processes are threatened. Aspects of transcultural treatment are discussed, and it is stressed that there must be a reframing of the trauma story so as not to repeat the psychological pain of the torture and aggravate symptoms. The Testimony-Method is introduced as an important tool for reframing. If the refugee presents sexual symptoms, sexological treatment interventions are recommended.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Health, Trauma, Sexuality, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 1989

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