Torture Research

Rape & Sexual Assault

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Burds, Jeffrey. 2009. “Sexual Violence in Europe in World War II, 1939-1945.” Politics & Society 37: 35-74.

Describes the extensive sexual violence on the Eastern front perpetrated by Germans, Russians, and partisan guerrillas, as well as the sexual humiliation and torture given to women who were seen as sexual collaborators with the enemy.

Carlson, Eric Stener. 2006. “The Hidden Prevalence of Male Sexual Assault During War: Observations on Blunt Trauma to the Male Genitals.” British Journal of Criminology 46, 16-25.

In his 1995 research with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, he found that various types of sexual assault of male prisoners of war were common, particularly blunt trauma to the genitals but other forms too. He argues this is a type of torture that investigators overlook, as investigators focus on anal rape and ignore other forms of sexual assault: blunt trauma, other torture, insertion of objects, plus sexual humiliations and forced masturbation as in Abu Ghraib.

Leiby, Michele. 2009. “Digging in the Archives: The Promise and Peril of Primary Documents.” Politics & Society 37: 75-100.

Uses archival documents from the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation commission to investigate the prevalence and causes of sexual violence during the Peruvian Civil War of 1980-2000. She finds that summaries of sexual violence tend to undercount events, and that researchers should look at the original documents instead. Using these documents allows for detailed information without retraumatizing victims through a second interview.  Sexual violence towards male victims is particularly undercounted.

Leiby, Michele L. 2009. “Wartime Sexual Violence in Guatemala and Peru.” International Studies Quarterly 53: 445-468.

Earlier research on sexual violence has focused on extreme and unusual cases, such as the former Yugoslavia, where sexual violence was a strategy of ethnic cleansing. By doing so, it has oversimplified the issue. Like Wood (2009), her theoretical model looks at the strategies of order givers, the actions of order-takers, and their interaction. Sexual violence can either be a targeted strategy or the opportunistic violence of inadequately controlled individuals. Her research uses archival evidence from the Truth and Reconciliation commissions in Guatemala and Peru. While sexual violence appears to have been a state strategy in both countries, the reasons differ.  In Guatemala, most sexual violence occurred in the context of attacks on indigenous villages, as part of a campaign to terrorize these populations thought to support the insurgency. In Peru, most sexual violence occurred against detained individuals, apparently not to gain intelligence but to force confessions, punish enemies, and warn others not to participate in anti-government activities.

Morris, Madeleine. 1996. “By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture.” Duke Law Journal 45(4), 651-781.
Soldiers commit other types of crime at a lower rate than the general population, but commit rape at a higher rate than the general population. She explains this through reference to primary group cohesion and norms of masculinity that encourage and legitimize rape.

Wood, Elisabeth Jean. 2006. “Variation in Sexual Violence during War.” Politics and Society 34(3), 307-341.
This article documents the high variation in sexual violence during war, and comes up with some preliminary hypotheses to explain it. These preliminary hypotheses focus on the role of strategic choices of leaders, norms of combatants, small unit dynamics, and discipline.

Wood, Elisabeth Jean. 2009. “Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When is Wartime Rape Rare?” Politics & Society 37: 131-161.

Most studies of sexual violence in war fail to explain why sexual violence is common by some military actors and rare among others. She proposes a theoretical framework that focuses on the interaction among decisions and norms of leaders and followers: Leaders may encourage or discourage sexual violence, and followers may have their own norms that either promote or discourage sexual violence. She applies this framework to explain why sexual violence is rare by Tamil insurgents in Sri Lanka, even though this group uses many other violent tactics and even though the government opposition forces use much sexual violence.

Zawati, Hilmi M. 2007. “Impunity or Immunity: Wartime Male Rape and Sexual Torture as a Crime Against Humanity.” Torture 17(1), 27-47.
Reviews the law on sexual assault as a war crime; asserts that male rape is common in war; male on male rape is “predominantly an assertion of power and aggression” rather than a crime of sexual desire; calls for more awareness and punishment of male rape.


Written by tortureresearch

January 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm

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