February 24, 2024

Understanding Mass Rape in Genocide: A New Perspective on a Deadly Weapon of War

Abstract: Mass rape has been extensively documented in times of armed conflict. In this dissertation I reanalyze the utilization of mass rape in times of genocide to understand the conditions under which it occurs. I posit that the underlying level of patriarchy within a society is the most important variable in explaining the occurrence of and motivation for using mass rape as a weapon. It is the historical depth of patriarchy within a society, along with how patriarchy is manifested within that particular societal context that will affect if and how mass rape is used during the course of the genocide. I show that societies with higher levels of patriarchy – societies in which the kin/property system is patrilineal, patrilocal, patrifocal – are more apt to utilize mass rape as a weapon and to do so with motivations of revenge against and humiliation of the victims and victim groups. Conversely, I propose that societies with a matri-oriented or bilateral kinship/property system are less likely to experience mass rape. Additionally, I propose several secondary variables that serve as intensifiers to the primary variable, patriarchy. These include religion (as related to patriarchy and ideology), ethnic and racial tensions (as demonstrated through the ideology), land scarcity/environmental pressure, and the perpetrator's goal of either extermination or displacement of the victim groups. Together, I suggest these variables explain if and how mass rape will be deployed as a weapon of war.
Julia Wartenberg
University of Virginia
Rae Blumberg
Milton Vickerman
Krishan Kumar
Denise Walsh
Department of Sociology
Date Added January 16, 2017
Date Modifed October 17, 2017
Collection UVA scholarship on sexual violence, 1974-

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