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Sexual violence as a weapon of war: the case of ISIS in Syria and Iraq
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis set out to research why ISIS combatants use sexual violence when they target the Yazidi community in particular. The aims have been to provide an understanding of why ISIS target Yazidi women and girls with sexual violence and develop a better understanding of both groups and thus hopefully provide assistance that is contextually adapted to the needs of Yazidi women and girls who have been targeted by ISIS. This has been done through a case study, where ISIS has been the case and the Yazidi population has been the subunit of analysis. Materials that have been released by ISIS, as well as witness statements that have been made available as secondary sources have been analysed, by applying the three theories/conceptual frameworks evolution theory, feminist theory, and the strategic rape concept to this data. The results are that the three frameworks separately cannot provide an explanation for the phenomena. Evolution theory did not provide any explanations for ISIS’ behaviour at all, not even when combined with the other frameworks. However, feminist theory in combination with the strategic rape concept explains the behaviour of ISIS, to a certain extent. There is however, a gap today in wartime sexual violence conceptualizations that need to be filled with an overarching theory that includes elements of both feminist theory and the strategic rape concept. The reasons for ISIS’ use of sexual violence are multi-layered. Sexual violence is used as strategy of war for political and religious reasons, as well as, to an extent, because of misogyny. ISIS are aiming to assimilate the area of the caliphate, while at the same time violently targeting the Yazidi population, by using their interpretation of religion as a justification, and until they reach this target of homogeneity for the caliphate, they will continue using sexual violence as a strategy of war and for the appropriation of territory and justify it with religion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 83 p.
Keyword [en]
ISIS, IS, ISIL, Sexual violence, Gender, Strategic rape, Feminism, NSA, Conflict, war, Political science, Rape, Rape in conflict, Sexual violence in conflict, religion
Keyword [sv]
ISIS, IS, ISIL, sexuellt våld, genus, strategisk våldtäkt, Konflikt, Krig, Statsvetenskap, Våldtäkt, Våldtäkt i konflikt, Religion
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-270180OAI: diva2:889178
Subject / course
International Humanitarian Action
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
Available from: 2016-01-03 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2016-01-03Bibliographically approved

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