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The systematic use of sexual violence in genocide: Understanding why women are being targeted using the cases of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

When describing sexual violence as a ’weapon of war’ or as systematic in the setting of a conflict, many times there is no distinction between how it is used during different types of conflicts. Moreover, they are often discussed as either a crime against the ”enemy” or a crime against women. This research seeks to describe sexual violence during the genocides of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and to find whether there is an underlying genocidal intent. It also aims to emphasize the intersectional nature of such crimes — the targeting of a woman on the basis of both gender and group belonging.

With the use of books, journal and research articles, reports and interview transcripts — this paper is based on a qualitative research method aiming to describe the underlying intent of the strategic use of sexual violence targeting women in genocide. It is the interpretation of the gathered material and theories which enables the discussion to take form. The genocidal intent behind rapes and sexual violence is not only to use women as reproductive vessels, prevent births within a group and inflict such injuries that would make a woman suffer and become less worthy in her community — but also to humiliate a group through sexual violence in a way that fragments it into elimination. By acknowledging the heightened effect sexual violence and its genocidal intent has on the intersection of group belonging and gender, women’s suffering is not overshadowed by the atrocity of genocide. Women are often discriminated against on either the basis of ethnicity or gender; however, when one emphasizes both elements as reasons for women being targets of genocidal sexual violence, perhaps the crimes could be properly dealt with and responded to by the international community. The research concludes that the systematic use of forced impregnation, mutilation, sexual humiliation and targeting of female identity carries a genocidal intent — resulting in the fragmentation of cultures and communities and furthers female subordination. The crime of genocidal sexual violence is a crime against the individual woman and the group of which she belongs. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 35
Keywords [en]
genocide, sexual violence, feminism, intersectionality, tactical rape, Rwanda, former Yugoslavia
National Category
Other Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-394662OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-394662DiVA, id: diva2:1359249
Educational program
Master Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-11-12 Created: 2019-10-08 Last updated: 2019-11-12Bibliographically approved

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