Conflict-related sexual violence and the policy implications of recent research

Scholars increasingly document different forms of conflict-related sexual violence, their distinct causes, and their sharply varying deployment by armed organizations. In this paper, I first summarize recent research on this variation, emphasizing findings that contradict or complicate popular beliefs. I then discuss distinct interpretations of the claim that such violence is part of a continuum of violence between peace and war. After analyzing recent research on the internal dynamics of armed organizations, I suggest that widespread rape often occurs as a practice rather than as a strategy. Finally, I advance some principles to guide policy in light of recent research.

About the author

Elisabeth Jean Wood
Professor of Political Science

Elisabeth Jean Wood, Professor of Political Science, International and Area Studies at Yale University and a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute, is currently writing a book on sexual violence during war. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she teaches courses on comparative politics, political violence, collective action, and qualitative research methods.