Skip to main content
×
Home

Explaining Rape during Civil War: Cross-National Evidence (1980–2009)

  • DARA KAY COHEN (a1)
Abstract

Why do some armed groups commit massive wartime rape, whereas others never do? Using an original dataset, I describe the substantial variation in rape by armed actors during recent civil wars and test a series of competing causal explanations. I find evidence that the recruitment mechanism is associated with the occurrence of wartime rape. Specifically, the findings support an argument about wartime rape as a method of socialization, in which armed groups that recruit by force—through abduction or pressganging—use rape to create unit cohesion. State weakness and insurgent contraband funding are also associated with increased wartime rape by rebel groups. I examine observable implications of the argument in a brief case study of the Sierra Leone civil war. The results challenge common explanations for wartime rape, with important implications for scholars and policy makers.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Dara Kay Cohen is Assistant Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (dara_cohen@hks.harvard.edu).
References
Hide All
Amir Menachem. 1971. Patterns in Forcible Rape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Asher Jana, ed., and Human Rights Data Analysis Group of Benetech. 2004. “Sierra Leone War Crimes Documentation Survey (SLWCD) Database v. 2.” Data available on request from editor.
Bastick Megan, Grimm Karin, and Kunz Rahel. 2007. Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict: Global Overview and Implications for the Security Sector. Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.
Baron Larry, and Straus Murray. 1989. Four Theories of Rape in American Society: A State-Level Analysis. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Beber Bernd, and Blattman Christopher. 2013. “The Logic of Child Soldiering and Coercion.” International Organization 67 (1): 65104.
Bellows John, and Miguel Edward. 2009. “War and Local Collective Action in Sierra Leone.” Journal of Public Economics 93: 1144–57.
Benard Cheryl. 1994. “Rape as Terror: The Case of Bosnia.” Terrorism and Political Violence 6 (1): 2943.
Bijleveld Catrien, and Hendriks Jan. 2003. “Juvenile Sex Offenders: Differences between Group and Solo Offenders.” Psychology, Crime & Law 9 (3): 237–45.
Bijleveld Catrien, Weerman Frank, Looije Daphne, and Hendriks Jen. 2007. “Group Sex Offending by Juveniles: Coercive Sex as a Group Activity.” European Journal of Criminology 4 (1): 531.
Blattman Christopher. 2009. “From Violence to Voting: War and Political Participation in Uganda.” American Political Science Review 103 (2): 231–47.
Bloom Mia. 1999. “War and the Politics of Rape: Ethnic versus Non-Ethnic Conflicts?” Paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association.
Bourgois Phillippe. 1996. In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bourke Joanna. 2007. Rape: Sex, Violence, History. London: Virago Press.
Brownmiller Susan. 1975. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Butler Christopher, Gluch Tali, and Mitchell Neil. 2007. “Security Forces and Sexual Violence: A Cross-national Analysis of a Principal-agent Argument.” Journal of Peace Research 44 (6): 669–86.
Card Claudia. 1996. “Rape as a Weapon of War,” Hypatia 11 (4). Available at http://iupjournals.org/hypatia/hyp11-4.html.
Caprioli Mary. 2005. “Primed for Violence: The Role of Gender Inequality in Predicting Internal Conflict.” International Studies Quarterly 49 (2): 161–78.
Caprioli Mary, Hudson Valerie, McDermott Rose, Ballif-Spanvill Bonnie, Emmett Chad, and Stearmer S. Matthew. 2009. “The WomanStats Project Database: Advancing an Empirical Research Agenda.” Journal of Peace Research 46 (6): 839–51.
Carpenter R. Charli. 2006. “Recognizing Gender-based Violence against Civilian Men and Boys in Conflict Situations.” Security Dialogue 37 (1): 83103.
Cingranelli David, and Richards David. 2008. The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset. Available at http://www.humanrightsdata.org.
Clark Ann Marie and Sikkink Kathryn. 2013. “Information Effects and Human Rights Data: Is the Good News about Increased Human Rights Information Bad News for Human Rights Measures?” Human Rights Quarterly 35 (3).
Cohen Dara Kay. 2010. Explaining Sexual Violence during Civil War. Ph.D. diss. Stanford University.
Cohen Dara Kay. 2013. “Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: Wartime Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War,” World Politics 65 (3): 383415.
Cohen Dara Kay, and Green Amelia Hoover. 2012. “Dueling Incentives: Sexual Violence in the Liberian Civil War and the Politics of Human Rights Advocacy.” Journal of Peace Research 49 (3): 445–58.
De Soysa Indra, and Fjelde Hanne. 2010. “Is the Hidden Hand an Iron Fist? Capitalism and Civil Peace, 1970–2005.” Journal of Peace Research 47 (3): 287–98.
Diken Bulent, and Laustsen Carsten Bagge. 2005. “Becoming Abject: Rape as a Weapon of War.” Body & Society 11 (1): 111–28.
Farr Kathryn. 2009. “Extreme War Rape in Today's Civil-War-Torn States: A Contextual and Comparative Analysis.” Gender Issues 26 (1): 141.
Fearon James D. 2006. “Ethnic Mobilization and Ethnic Violence.” In The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy, eds. Weingast Barry and Wittman Donald. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 852868.
Fearon James D. 2010. “Governance and Civil War Onset,” Background paper prepared for the 2011 World Development Report, August 31.
Fearon James D, and Laitin David. 2011. “A List of Civil Wars, 1945–2009.” Revised and Updated Version of the List used for Fearon and Laitin 2003. Stanford University.
Fearon James D., and Laitin David D.. 2003. “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War.” American Political Science Review 97 (1): 7590.
Forney Jonathan. 2012. “Who Can We Trust With a Gun? Social Networks and Private Information in Militia Recruitment.” Unpublished paper, University of Virginia.
Franklin Karen. 2004. “Enacting Masculinity: Antigay Violence and Group Rape as Participatory Theater.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy 1 (2): 2540.
Gates Scott. 2002. “Recruitment and Allegiance: The Microfoundations of Rebellion.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (1): 111–30.
Gibney Mark, Cornett Linda, and Wood Reed. 2011. Political Terror Scale 1976–2006. Available at http://www.politicalterrorscale.org.
Goldstein Joshua. 2001. War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Green Jennifer Lynn. 2006. “Collective Rape: A Cross-National Study of the Incidence and Perpetrators of Mass Political Sexual Violence, 1980–2003.” Ph.D. diss. Ohio State University.
Groth Nicholas, and Birnbaum Jean. 1979. Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender. New York: Plenum.
Hansen Lene. 2001. “Gender, Nation, Rape: Bosnia and the Construction of Security.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 3 (1): 5575.
Harff Barbara. 2003. “No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955.” American Political Science Review 9 (1): 5773.
Hauffe Sarah, and Porter Louise. 2008. “An Interpersonal Comparison of Lone and Group Rape Offences.” Psychology, Crime & Law 15 (5): 469–91.
Hayden Robert. 2000. “Rape and Rape Avoidance in Ethno-National Conflicts: Sexual Violence in Liminalized States.” American Anthropologist 102 (1): 2741.
Holmes Melisa, Resnick Heidi, Kilpatrick Dean, and Best Connie. 1996. “Rape-related Pregnancy: Estimates and Descriptive Characteristics from a National Sample of Women.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 175 (2): 320–25.
Horowitz Donald. 1985. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2004. “In War as in Peace: Sexual Violence and Women's Status.” World Report 2004. Available at http://hrw.org/wr2k4/15.htm.
Human Security Report Project. 2005. Human Security Report 2005: War and Peace in the 21st Century. New York: Oxford University Press.
Human Security Report Project. 2008. Human Security Brief 2007. Vancouver: HSRP.
Humphreys, Macartan, and Jeremy Weinstein. 2004. What the Fighters Say: A Survey of Ex-combatants in Sierra Leone, June-August 2003. New York: Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development, Columbia University.
Humphreys Macartan, and Weinstein Jeremy. 2006. “Handling and Manhandling Civilians in Civil War.” American Political Science Review 100: 429–47.
Inal Tuba. 2013. Looting and Rape in Wartime: Law and Change in International Relations. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Kalyvas Stathis. 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kier Elizabeth. 1998. “Homosexuals in the U.S. Military: Open Integration and Combat Effectiveness.” International Security 23 (2): 539.
Koo Katrina Lee. 2002. “Confronting a Disciplinary Blindness: Women, War and Rape in the International Politics of Security.” Australian Journal of Political Science 37 (3): 525–36.
Lacina Bethany, and Gleditsch Nils Petter. 2005. “Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A New Dataset of Battle Deaths.” European Journal of Population 21 (2–3): 145–66.
Leiby Michele. 2009. “Wartime Sexual Violence in Guatemala and Peru.” International Studies Quarterly 53 (2): 445–68.
MacKinnon Catharine. 1994. “Rape, Genocide and Women's Human Rights.” Harvard Women's Law Journal 17 (5): 516.
Malamuth Neil. 1981. “Rape Proclivity among Males.” Journal of Social Issues 37 (4): 138–57.
Malamuth Neil. 1996. “The Confluence Model of Sexual Aggression: Feminist and Evolutionary Perspectives.” In Sex, Power, Conflict: Evolutionary and Feminist Perspectives, eds. Buss David and Malamuth Neil. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 269295.
Mezey Gillian. 1994. “Rape in War.” Journal of Forensic Psychiatry 5 (3): 583–97.
Morris Madeline. 1996. “By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture.” Duke Law Journal 45 (4): 651781.
Morrow Lance. 1993. “Unspeakable: Rape and War.” Time, February 22.
Mueller John. 2000. “The Banality of ‘Ethnic War.’International Security 25 (1): 4270.
Mullins Christopher. 2009. “‘He Would Kill Me with His Penis’: Genocidal Rape in Rwanda as a State Crime.” Critical Criminology 17 (1): 1533.
Physicians for Human Rights. 2002. War-Related Sexual Violence in Sierra Leone: A Population Based Assessment. Boston: PHR.
Pickering Jeffrey. 2010. “Dangerous Drafts? A Time-series, Cross-national Analysis of Conscription and the Use of Military Force, 1946–2001.” Armed Forces and Society 36 (2): 122.
Plümper Thomas, and Neumayer Eric. 2006. “The Unequal Burden of War: The Effect of Armed Conflict on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy.” International Organization 60 (3): 723–54.
Poe Steven, and Tate C. Neal. 1994. “Repression of Human Rights to Personal Integrity in the 1980s: A Global Analysis.” American Political Science Review 88 (4): 853–72.
Rittner Carol, and Roth John K.. eds. 2012. Rape: Weapon of War and Genocide. St. Paul: Paragon House.
Samset Ingrid. 2011. “Sexual Violence: The Case of Eastern Congo.” In The Peace in Between: Post-War Violence and Peacebuilding, eds. Berdal Mats and Suhrke Astri. New York: Routledge, pp. 229247.
Sanday Peggy Reeves. 2007. Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood, and Privilege on Campus, 2nd ed. New York: New York University Press.
Seifert Ruth. 1996. “The Second Front: The Logic of Sexual Violence in Wars.” Women's Studies International Forum 19 (1/2): 3543.
Sharlach Lisa. 2000. “Rape as Genocide: Bangladesh, the Former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda.” New Political Science 22 (1): 89102.
Shils Edward, and Janowitz Morris. 1948. “Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II.” Public Opinion Quarterly 12 (2): 280315.
Smith Alison, Gambette Catherine, and Longley Thomas. 2004. “Conflict Mapping in Sierra Leone: Violations of International Humanitarian Law from 1991 to 2002.” No Peace without Justice. Available at http://www.specialcourt.org/SLMission/CMFullReport.html.
Theidon Kimberly. 2007. “Gender in Transition: Common Sense, Women, and War.” Journal of Human Rights 6 (4): 453–78.
Tomz Michael, Wittenberg Jason, and King Gary. 2003. CLARIFY: Software for Interpreting and Presenting Statistical Results. Version 2.1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Valentino Benjamin, Huth Paul, and Balch-Lindsay Dylan. 2004. “Draining the Sea: Mass Killing, Guerrilla Warfare.” International Organization 58 (2): 375407.
Vermeij Lotte. 2009. “Children of Rebellion: Socialization of Child Soldiers within the Lord's Resistance Army.” Master's Thesis. University of Oslo.
Weinstein Jeremy. 2005. “Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 49 (4): 598624.
Weinstein Jeremy. 2007. Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Williams Lethia, and Masters Daniel. 2011. “Assessing Military Intervention and Democratization: Supportive versus Oppositional Military Interventions.” Democracy and Security 7 (1): 1837.
Wood Elisabeth Jean. 2006. “Variation in Sexual Violence during War.” Politics and Society 34 (3): 307–42.
Wood Elisabeth Jean. 2008. “Sexual Violence during War: Toward an Understanding of Variation.” In Order, Conflict and Violence, eds. Shapiro Ian, Kalyvas Stathis, and Masoud Tarek. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 325–51.
Wood Elisabeth Jean. 2009. “Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare?Politics and Society 37 (1): 131–61.
Wood Reed 2010. “Rebel Capability and Strategic Violence against Civilians.” Journal of Peace Research 47 (5): 601–14.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Cohen supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (332 KB)
332 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 84
Total number of PDF views: 1088 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 3068 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.