Understanding Mass Rape in Genocide: A New Perspective on a Deadly Weapon of War

Wartenberg, Julia, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Blumberg, Rae, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Vickerman, Milton, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Kumar, Krishan, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Walsh, Denise, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

Mass rape has been extensively documented in times of armed conflict. In this dissertation I reanalyze the utilization of mass rape in times of genocide to understand the conditions under which it occurs. I posit that the underlying level of patriarchy within a society is the most important variable in explaining the occurrence of and motivation for using mass rape as a weapon. It is the historical depth of patriarchy within a society, along with how patriarchy is manifested within that particular societal context that will affect if and how mass rape is used during the course of the genocide. I show that societies with higher levels of patriarchy – societies in which the kin/property system is patrilineal, patrilocal, patrifocal – are more apt to utilize mass rape as a weapon and to do so with motivations of revenge against and humiliation of the victims and victim groups. Conversely, I propose that societies with a matri-oriented or bilateral kinship/property system are less likely to experience mass rape. Additionally, I propose several secondary variables that serve as intensifiers to the primary variable, patriarchy. These include religion (as related to patriarchy and ideology), ethnic and racial tensions (as demonstrated through the ideology), land scarcity/environmental pressure, and the perpetrator's goal of either extermination or displacement of the victim groups. Together, I suggest these variables explain if and how mass rape will be deployed as a weapon of war.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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