Category Archives: Rape as a weapon of war

Punishing Rape with More Rape? DRC Trauma Stories

Last week, Lauren Wolfe of Women Under Siege wrote about the rape and violence of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This violence is tearing families apart. Men, women, and children are caught in the horrors of war and the men are fighting for a sense of control. Husbands of women who have been raped often choose to leave their wives because these women have “lost their value.” 43% of men surveyed thought men whose wives had been raped should leave. Those women whose husbands choose to stay are often beaten or raped again. More than half of these men reported perpetuating some form of violence against their wives. Rape among civilians has increased 17-fold and violence, trauma, hunger, and poverty are rampant and studies have found that men are dealing with the trauma by inflicting more violence, usually on their wives and children. Researchers state that “Family has become the battlefield where men try to regain control and power that is lost elsewhere in life.”  Lindsay Cortwright

Living Peace is an organization that is trying to promote community support for families that have experienced trauma because of the war and giving hope to these scarred communities. You can read the full article here.

Update on Violence Against Women Act

Since the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA, was mentioned during our first class period, I thought it would be good to get an update on the challenges facing Congress as well as identify the main issues with VAWA.

Mass Rape in War: History’s Forgotten Victims

Lena Jones

As George Santayana famously quoted in his book Reason and Common Sense, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” These words foreshadow a sad and sickening future for women and girls of all walks of life in every corner of the globe. Mass rape in warfare has been an ongoing problem since the beginning of human history. Evidence suggests that there were mass rapes during the Trojan War and the First Crusade as well as from the American Revolution through World War II and in subsequent political actions since, including, Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda, and even the War on Terror of today. Approximately 130,000 women and girls were victims of repeated rapes committed by Soviet soldiers in Berlin following the liberation in WWII. In 1993, the number of victims of war rape in the Bosnian conflict was estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000. The following year in Rwanda saw between 250,000 and 500,000 women and girls suffer brutal and systematic rapes during the ethnic war between the Tutsi and Hutu. These numbers are staggering, and yet I did not learn about any of these statistics until I began graduate school – why is that? Why is an issue that directly affects half the world population (women) and indirectly affects the other half (everyone has a mother!) not deemed important enough to grace the pages of our history books, or to be taught to our children a long side Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of the Alamo?

There seems to be a solid consensus regarding the magnitude of this problem among the Women’s Studies and Feminist academic communities, which leads me to question the reasoning behind history’s continued deletion of these atrocities from its pages. Why do these awful things keep happening to women, and on such a large scale? And why does no one seem to care? Why is it not worthy of our attention? Why aren’t women important? If we cannot even begin to acknowledge the magnitude at which these atrocities occur, then what hope do we have as a species to ever assuage the problem? Unfortunately, these traumatic experiences of women in armed conflicts throughout the ages are practically the same, which necessitates a consideration the underlying causes of the continued sexual torture of women in wartime. Two theoretical explanations predominate: that of the socialization of traditional masculine values and rape as a military tactic. If causal factors such as these are indeed to blame, then what can possibly be done to stop it? And furthermore, why are these widespread atrocities continually deleted from the pages of history?

The socialization of hyper-masculine traits in men is suggested to be a direct causal factor in both rape and war, and cultures which are more frequently engaged in armed conflict also have higher instances of sexual violence against women, including during peacetime. Widespread sexual violence in warfare is seen by many to be a strategic military tactic. Women are often viewed as the stitching that holds their community together, be it through the passing down of traditions and cultures or simply through the act of reproduction. With violent prone men engaged in armed conflict against an “enemy” population, it is not difficult to see how mass rape could be utilized in such a nefarious way…but why the omission from history? I believe that as a patriarchal society (and others, as well) that we do not hold women in the esteem that validates their experiences (or their importance as a woman) as being worthy of our attention, especially when there is a “bigger” issue at play – namely the war itself.

I call to action every government of every country, every media entity, every teacher and every person everywhere to stand up and say: “Yes, this has happened, and this has continued to happen, but we will not stand for it to happen anymore.” Until we take personal responsibility for ensuring an end to the atrocities that these women have and continue to suffer, we are condemned to condone and repeat them. The subject of mass and systematic war-rape is worthy of public discourse and discussion in every history classroom (not just academics that focus on women’s issues), but any and every history class. These outrages are a part of our history, and should not continue to be ignored. To do so will only condemn generations of women to this same fate, as well as to continue to disavow and discount the experiences of those in the past.


Lenna Jones is a first year graduate student at East Carolina University in the departments of Sociology and Women’s Studies. She received her BS degree in Criminal Justice from ECU in 2010. Lenna’s research interests are in rape myth acceptance and the criminal justice system, and is currently working on her thesis which is looking at the relationship between police officer education and the attrition of sexual assault cases at the investigative stages.


Some testimonies, historical photos, and other resources about comfort women

The following link goes to the e-Museum for the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery.

It provides some precious testimonies including late Hak-soon Kim’s historic confession in the year of 1991. It was the first confession for ‘coming out of the closet’ that she was a comfort women in Korea. And it definitely exploded the anti-Japanese mass protests and concentrated people’s awareness on this issue in Korea (in combination of some political troubles). The following figure presents the newspaper coverage of comfort women issue in Korea.

(Compilation Source: the Kyunghyang Daily, 1960-2010)

(Click to see a larger image)

When you visit this homepage, instead of Firefox, Explorer or Google Chrome is more recommended to use videoclips and some photos. Unfortunately, almost all videoclips do not have English subtitle.

Hyun Woo Kim

Democratic Republic of Congo Rape Trials

The colonel of the DR Congo Kibibi Mutware is being jailed for crimes against humanity for being responsible for a mass rape.  Kibibi sent his soldiers to steal and rape the Fizi on New Year’s Day.  More than 60 Fizi women were rape on New Year’s Day.  Kibibi is the first commanding officer to be convicted in the DR Congo of rape.  Kibibi is being sentenced to 20 years in jail, and five other soldiers are being sentenced to jail for 10 to 15 years.  The 2,000 people who attended the court hearings were disappointed because they wanted the death sentence for the colonel.  The United Nations reported that there were at least 11,000 rapes in the DR Congo in 2010, but that the real number is probably much higher.

Ronnie Miller

Women’s Activism for the Comfort Women in Korea


Recently I become interested in women’s activism for the comfort women in Korea. Especially, I think some issues regarding the comfort women (such as comfort women organizing, protest repertoires, funding, and confession) provide us very interesting examples of social movements in a marginal position, not of a middle class women’s movements. Although I don’t have a thorough knowledge of the comfort women in history, the contemoprary activism for the comfort women can be an interesting topic.

Here is the homepage of The Korean Council for th Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

Really long name. isn’t it? We call this organization Jungdaehyup in short in Korean. If you are interested, please visit here:

Hyun Woo Kim

17 Victims Sue Pentagon Over ‘Plague’ of Sexual Violence

See this brave group of women who are suing the Pentagon over a culture that seems to condone or cover up rape and sexual harrassment:

17 Victims Sue Pentagon Over ‘Plague’ of Sexual Violence

Within the text is this: “The lawsuit cited the Pentagon’s own statistics that reported 3,230 rapes and other sexual assaults in 2009. Because the military acknowledges that 80 percent of victims don’t report the crime, the real number may be more than 16,000.”

I have a question about this. We have been learning more about how rape is used as a weapon of war in situations of ethnic cleansing as well as by soldiers who know that it can strike fear in a whole community and therefore give them control. Can we do a thought experiment to link this strategy to the use of sexual assault within a military establishment to control its women soldiers / employees?   — Susan Pearce