Towards a Typology of Wartime Rape

from Bonn International Center for Conversion
Published on 08 Oct 2010 View Original
Elvan Isikozlu, Ananda S. MillardThis brief presents the progress to date in developing a typology of wartime rape as a first step toward understanding the different consequences of this form of violence in war. This publication focuses solely on wartime rape perpetrated by armed groups against civilians, though this form of violence is perpetrated more widely by, and against, different actors during war. The wider perpetration of rape against other actors is not presented in this brief, but is nevertheless included in the Typology.

The Typology is a product of two phases of research: a) an initial phase (November 2008-May 2009) where a preliminary typology was created based on an examination of two country cases of wartime rape: Bosnia and Herzegovina, and El Salvador; and b) a second phase (September 2009-May 2010) where the typology was refined according to data collected from a review of the literature on ten additional country cases of wartime rape (Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea/ Bougainville, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste). The Typology was designed on the basis of a definition of wartime, which includes a myriad of war dynamics that surround and influence the perpetration of rape, and which can be organized into the following 'themes':

- type of conflict in which wartime rape occurs;

- characteristics of the armed group;

- motivations for the rape;

- characteristics of the rapist;

- characteristics of the raped person; and

- characteristics of the rape.

Eight different types of wartime rape against civilians have been identified to date and are presented in this brief.

This research has demonstrated that there are indeed different types of rape in war, and that the consequences of wartime rape are largely influenced by the type of rape, which was perpetrated. The data is not available to establish causal paths between the different types and consequences, though our research shows that some consequences are more likely than others depending on the type of wartime rape that was committed. Our examination of the consequences of wartime rape focuses on socioeconomic issues and how these affect not only the raped individual, but also his/ her family, community and the interactions within and between them. We do not explore questions of trauma and the psychological impact of rape on the individual, though these remain important issues of concern.

What is more, this Typology demonstrates that the consequences are not always influenced by the same characteristics, such as the motivation for rape, for example. Rather, different characteristics and factors of these characteristics may influence the consequences, including the perpetrator-raped individual relationship, and how the rape itself was perpetrated (i.e. in detention, as a domestic sexual slave, in rape camps, etc.). These consequences have different implications for interventions by donors and practitioners, which are outlined in this brief. While there are some similarities across different types, interventions should be informed by the greatest level of detail possible to ensure that no information critical to the success of an intervention is missed. This includes a consideration of the social context in which the rape occurs, which is not taken into account in our Typology.

While it remains a work in progress, the Typology can be used by donors and practitioners to help identify the necessary data to design more informed and targeted interventions, and to evaluate interventions that aim to meet the needs of individuals, families and communities that result from wartime rape. Our Typology could, after further development, also be used to develop operational tools and strategies to protect vulnerable populations from victimization, and to deter the orchestration and/or perpetration of wartime rape in the future.