Page 1 of 5

Rape as a Weapon of War

Continues for 4 more pages »
Read full document

Rape as a Weapon of War

  • Course: Women & Gender Studies
  • Professor: Wanzo
  • School: Washington University in St Louis, MO
Page 1 of 5
Rape as a Weapon of War

Military conflicts are envisioned to be a conflict between two armies of soldiers, yet, in reality, most casualties of war are civilians, most of whom are women and children. These women and children are left vulnerable during times of war and are frequently victims of rape and other forms of sexual assault. Throughout history rape has been used as a tool to dehumanize and terrorize the enemy population. When carried out in systematic fashion during periods of conflict, rape becomes much more complicated than an individual act to satisfy sexual urges and exert power over another person. Rape as a weapon of war can be more destructive to communities and family structures than the conflict itself. The effects of rape in postwar societies can be seen for generations and creates a culture that tolerates violence and rape and accepts them as the norm. Rape as an orchestrated combat tool, throughout history, has been viewed as an attack against individual women and not as a strategy of war (Barstow, 2000). These rapes, however, are carried out with a specific purpose in mind and are far more devastating than the “opportunistic pillaging” that they have been painted as in the past. Rapes in war are often committed to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities, alter the ethnic make-up of future generations, deliberately infect women with HIV or other STIs, or render them incapable of bearing children (Brouwer, 1998). Ethnic clashes, in particular, appear to have an abundance of rape in order to perpetuate social control and redraw ethnic boundaries. Women are viewed as the reproducers and caretakers of the community. By controlling and impregnating this part of the population, another group is able to maintain authority (Neier, 1998). Some feminists argue that rape has almost always been a party to armed conflict, evidence of this can be seen in classic literature as well as contemporary conflicts. In The Histories,...
Rape as a Weapon of War
Military conflicts are envisioned to be a conflict between two armies of soldiers, yet, in
reality, most casualties of war are civilians, most of whom are women and children. These
women and children are left vulnerable during times of war and are frequently victims of rape
and other forms of sexual assault. Throughout history rape has been used as a tool to dehumanize
and terrorize the enemy population. When carried out in systematic fashion during periods of
conflict, rape becomes much more complicated than an individual act to satisfy sexual urges and
exert power over another person. Rape as a weapon of war can be more destructive to
communities and family structures than the conflict itself. The effects of rape in postwar societies
can be seen for generations and creates a culture that tolerates violence and rape and accepts
them as the norm.
Rape as an orchestrated combat tool, throughout history, has been viewed as an attack
against individual women and not as a strategy of war (Barstow, 2000). These rapes, however,
are carried out with a specific purpose in mind and are far more devastating than the
“opportunistic pillaging” that they have been painted as in the past. Rapes in war are often
committed to terrorize the population, break up families, destroy communities, alter the ethnic
make-up of future generations, deliberately infect women with HIV or other STIs, or render them
incapable of bearing children (Brouwer, 1998). Ethnic clashes, in particular, appear to have an
abundance of rape in order to perpetuate social control and redraw ethnic boundaries. Women are
viewed as the reproducers and caretakers of the community. By controlling and impregnating this
part of the population, another group is able to maintain authority (Neier, 1998).