Wartime Sexual Violence in Guatemala and Peru*


Leiby, Michele L. 2009. “Wartime Sexual Violence in Guatemala and Peru*.” International Studies Quarterly 53 (2): 445–68.

Author: Michele L. Leiby


This article is a comparative analysis of sexual violence perpetrated by state armed forces during the Guatemalan and Peruvian civil wars. Focusing on the type of violation and the context in which it occurs provides new insights into the motives behind its use in war. It introduces a new data set on sexual violence compiled from truth commission documents and nongovernmental human rights organizations’ reports. The data reveal that members of the state armed forces perpetrated the majority of sexual violations, that rape and gang rape are the most frequent but not the only abuses committed, and that women are the overwhelming majority of victims of sexual violence. Aggregate patterns suggest that state authorities must have known of mass sexual abuse and failed to act in accordance with international law. Moreover, some evidence suggests sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. However, mono-causal models cannot sufficiently account for the variation and complexity in its use. Even within the same conflict, sexual violence can serve multiple functions in different contexts and at different points in time.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, International Law, Justice, TRCs, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Americas, Central America, South America Countries: Guatemala, Peru

Year: 2009

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