Sexual Violence during War

Image: Al Jazeera 2014

Event details

Public Lecture

Date & time

Wednesday 06 May 2020


Lecture Theatre 1 (HB1), Hedley Bull Building 130, corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
Hedley Bull Building


Professor Elisabeth Jean Wood


Dr Nick Cheesman

Sexual violence against civilians by combatants during war varies sharply in its form –whether rape or forced abortion or some other form, in whom it targets – sometimes including men, boys and sexual and gender minorities, and in how often it occurs. Patterns of perpetration vary as well. Some armed actors effectively prohibit their members from engaging in sexual violence. Some adopt rape or some other form of sexual violence as organisational policy (sometimes as a military strategy). Others simply tolerate its occurrence, with the result that rape and other forms of sexual violence can be frequent without having been adopted as organizational policy. Examples from Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and the United States will illustrate this wide variation in patterns of victimization and perpetration. In this lecture we will assess recent approaches to understanding this complex variation, including the distinct logics driving different types of sexual violence (rape as a weapon of war vs forced abortion, for example) and gender analysis of the internal organizational dynamics driving sexual violence. We will also explore the implications for policy including intervention during war as well as prosecution after its end.

Elisabeth Jean Wood, Crosby Professor of the Human Environment and Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University, is currently writing a book on sexual violence during war. She is the author of Forging Democracy from Below: Insurgent Transitions in South Africa and El Salvador and Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Among her recent articles are “Rape as a Practice of War: Towards a Typology of Political Violence,” “The Persistence of Sexual Assault within the US Military,” and “The Social Processes of Civil War: The Wartime Transformation of Social Networks,” as well as two articles co-authored with Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín, “What should we mean by ‘pattern of political violence’? Repertoire, targeting, frequency, and technique” and “Ideology and Civil War: Instrumental Adoption and Beyond.” A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she teaches courses on comparative politics, political violence, collective action, agrarian studies, and qualitative research methods. She has served on editorial boards for the Contentious Politics series (Cambridge University Press) since 2004, World Politics since 2016, for Politics and Society (2003 – 2013) and American Political Science Review (2007-2013). Beginning in June 2020, she will be a co-editor of the American Political Science Review. She currently serves on the APSA’s Ad-hoc Committee on Human Subjects Research.

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