Wartime sexual violence

Wartime sexual violence is rape or other forms of sexual violence committed by combatants during an armed conflict, war, or military occupation often as spoils of war, but sometimes, particularly in ethnic conflict, the phenomenon has broader sociological motives. Wartime sexual violence may also include gang rape and rape with objects. A war crime, it is distinguished from sexual harassment, sexual assaults and rape committed amongst troops in military service.[1][2][3]

Monument to the Condottiero Giovanni dalle Bande Nere depicting a man kidnapping a woman (Piazza San Lorenzo, Florence)

During war and armed conflict, rape is frequently used as a means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate the enemy. Wartime sexual violence may occur in a variety of situations, including institutionalized sexual slavery, wartime sexual violence associated with specific battles or massacres, as well as individual or isolated acts of sexual violence.

Rape can also be recognized as genocide when it is committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted group. International legal instruments for prosecuting perpetrators of genocide were developed in the 1990s, and the Akayesu case of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was widely considered a precedent.[4] However, these legal instruments have so far only been used for international conflicts, thus putting the burden of proof in citing the international nature of conflict in order for prosecution to proceed.

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