Detained men in concentration camp, Bosnia

Male-on-Male Sexual Violence in Wartime:

Human Rights' Last Taboo?


Augusta DelZotto, Ph.D., Syracuse University


Adam Jones, Ph.D., Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE)

Paper presented to the Annual Convention
of the International Studies Association (ISA),

New Orleans, LA, 23-27 March 2002.

This paper may be freely quoted with appropriate citation, and may be distributed
for educational and other non-profit use, if the authors are credited and notified.

Introduction and Overview

In early 1992, one of us (DelZotto) was watching footage of women and children Bosnian refugees being moved into trucks by members of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees. A male UNHCR official gave a distraught-looking boy, aged about fourteen or fifteen, a tray of food and a warm pat on the back. The boy's face became desperate and full of rage. His body trembled. He pulled the man's arm away from him, began to cry, and ran away from the camera. This was the face of an abused child. Ten years later, the image still has the power to haunt. The boy's reaction, his body language, his disgust over a well-meaning male presence, were all behaviors that DelZotto had witnessed too often in her years as a social worker: the defensive, painful reactions of sexually abused males.

While many inroads have been made in the recognition of female sexual abuse in warfare, male experiences of sexual assault have, for themost part, been silenced (King, 1995). The cultural and institutional barriers to recognizing male on male sexual abuse run deep. In this article, we explore the complex cultural and institutional factors that have contributed to the silencing of men's and boy's experiences of sexual assault in warfare. We examine in turn the agendas and discourse of policymakers, non-governmental organizations, and feminist scholarship. In the second part of the paper, we evaluate the impact this neglect has had on our understanding of the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

In one way, the recognition of "ethnic cleansing" in the Bosnian war crimes tribunals from 1992 onwards have made important inroads in the field of human rights. For the first time in history, the international human rights community developed a language and a set of concepts that defined sexual abuse as an instrument of warfare, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide (Allen, 1996). However, the current recognition and construction of sexual war crimes in humanitarian, legal, and scholarly circles is quintessentially gendered. With rare and usually fragmentary exceptions, it fails to recognize that males, as well as females, are frequently targeted for sexual assault in wartime. The feminized construction of such assaults has a negative impact on male survivors at both legal and institutional levels, denying them representation and protection by both governmental and non-governmental actors.

We identify the lack of widespread institutional recognition of male-on-male (and occasionally female-on-male) sexual violence in wartime as stemming from three overlapping conditions. The first is the historical silencing of men's experiences of intragender abuse and cruelty. The second is the far-reaching dissemination and institutionalization of narrow feminist constructions of masculinity and sexual violence, reflected in the academic and activist literature as well as the actions of international organizations and the coverage offered by mass media. (The various discourse strategies that serve to "efface" male victimization and even render it "unthinkable" will be explored at length below.) The third and final factor is the appropriation of this narrow construction of masculinity by political elites as a way of upholding regional security interests. Indeed, we will demonstrate that gendered constructions of sexual violence in warfare ultimately play an important role in the prevailing international-security regime.

To summarize, the near-total inattention to the male victim of sexual violence(1) needs to be explained with reference to a broad panoply of actors, with distinct but converging interests. We need to understand why the subject has been designated as a "taboo" by political elites, international organizations (notably the United Nations and its offshoot, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) and non-governmental organizations as well. Lastly, we need to account for the general failure of feminist scholarship and activism to incorporate the issue in its analysis. Only then can some sense of the specific institutional challenges be gleaned - that is, the key actors and discourses that buttress the wall of silence, and possible strategies for breaking down that wall and transforming policies in the field

Before proceeding, it is worth defining three terms that will be employed throughout this paper: "rape," "sexual assault," and "sexual violence." Our usage of the term "rape" follows that of the United Nations Commission of Experts' Final Report (the Bassiouni Commission, discussed further below): "Rape is defined ... as nonconsensual sexual penetration [n.b. with either a body part or an inanimate object], while sexual assault encompasses rape and other forced or coerced sexual acts. It also includes sexual mutilations ..." "Sexual violence," and related phrases like "sexual victimization" and "sexual torture," we use more or less interchangeably with "sexual assault."

Male-on-Male and Male-on-Female Sexual Violence in Historical Context

Male rape is a taboo subject; it happens but it is concealed by the victims who are too ashamed to speak out and by a society that is not prepared to listen (Mezey and King, 2000).

As feminist research has correctly argued, sexual violence is not the mere meaningless explosion of inner rage. Sexual violence often involves purposeful action aimed at maintaining male supremacy through intimidation, abuse, and repression. What this wide body of research standardly fails to examine, however, is the fact that males are frequently, indeed disproportionately, victimized by other males with these same intentions in mind. Much of the literature supporting the need for greater protection of women in war acknowledges only one level of meaning in war rape and other forms of sexual violence - the "spoils of war" theory (Tickner, 1992). Literature deriving from this theoretical foundation meticulously explores historical texts, dating as far back as the Bible, in which women are deemed the "property" of the enemy. An effective way to challenge the enemy, therefore, is to defile his "property," that is to say, his women.

Certainly, the "spoils of war" theory is grounded in solid historical evidence. Transcripts from the Balkans war trials underscore this important level of intention as it is expressed in modern times, using countless incidents of sexual violence against women and girls to support the "spoils of war" theory (Kelson, 2000). However, most current literature on war rape fails to recognize another, equally important level of intent and meaning behind sexual violence: the intent to "emasculate" the enemy himself. This is done not only by defiling the enemy's "female property," but also by defiling the enemy's own body. What greater humiliation can one man impose on another man or boy than to turn him into a de facto "female" through sexual cruelty?

This practice, along with confiscation of the enemy's feminine "spoils of war," is as old as history itself (Ehrenreich, 1997). Ancient Persian murals show triumphant warriors marching along bearing plates piled high with their enemy's penises. For centuries, men and boys who were captured in, or as a result of, combat became the "body servants" (sex slaves) of western warriors, or the "brides" of warriors in Mesoamerica (Zapata, interview, 2001). Most cultures appear to support the claim that an important aspect of conquest involves turning male enemies into feminized subjects (Ling, 2001; Skjelsbæk, 2001). As western Judeo-Christian and Islamic taboos against homo-eroticism (including violent homoeroticism) became institutionalized, the above-mentioned acts became less public, and generally ceased to be part of triumphal spectacles of violence. They continued to be practiced nonetheless, but "underground"; but male victims in the grip of the prevailing taboo found it ever harder to speak of their experiences of male-on-male sexual assault, and harder to find those who would listen when they did (Webb, 2001). In his book Male Rape: Breaking the Silence on the Last Taboo, Richie J. McMullen summarizes the contemporary state of affairs concerning male-on-male sexual assault, in a way that suggests how victim reticence and institutional neglect combine to eliminate the male victim from consideration. "Many people have difficulty calling a spade a spade," McMullen argues, because:

1. In male-dominated cultures, males do not want to accept that they can be and are victims of rape.
2. Very few male rapes are reported.
3. It is not openly talked about and it becomes a taboo subject.
4. There is little general understanding about it.
5. It is not recognized in law. (McMullen, 1990: 9).

In contrast, sexual assaults on females by males continued to be a recognized and in some ways "open" practice. Sympathy for the female victim fluctuated depending on the cultural and historical context in which the sexual violence took place. In many cases, women who were victimized could no longer return to their communities, as they were viewed as "dishonored" and "impure"; they were either relegated to serving as prostitutes or, in many cases, killed by their own men (often with the complicity of other community women) to salvage the collective "honor" of the group (Allen, 1992).(2) However, there were many instances when women did, indeed, receive care and sympathy from their community, while men and boys were viewed as being able to "take" both sexual and non-sexual abuse (Webb, 2001), and who similarly risked violating community honor and its masculinist code by protesting about their victimization.One conclusion that is inescapable in reading the scant literature on wartime sexual violence against men is that its consequences are no less far-reaching and traumatic than that experienced by female victims. As Gordana Rebic wrote in the context of Croatian male victims,

Fearing society's judgments, in which rape and other forms of sexual torture are looked upon as taboo to discuss, victims were forced to keep quiet about their adversities, even among themselves. Like other victims of war, men that were sexually abused suffer from post-traumatic stress (i.e. difficulty sleeping, night-sweats, fear, tension, poor concentration, flashbacks, etc.) and difficulty functioning sexually. They also have wavering moods: from depression to aggressive assaults. In one single moment, the victim unconsciously identifies with the one that sexually abused him. Every victim is degraded and intimately suffers from his traumatic experience. Talking about the incident returns his feeling of self-confidence because the victim feels that he can contribute to something useful, like finding the criminal, for example. Likewise, he also frees himself of the feeling of guilt that perhaps his behavior provoked the pathological conduct of his enemy, explains Dr. Mladen Loncar, head of the medical center for men's rights in Zagreb. According to Mr. Loncar, this type of traumatic experience is something that hasn't been recorded in history. The systematic mistreatment of thousands of men (rape, beatings on the genitals, castration...) has left psychological scars on many (Rebic 1996).

The Construction of "Women's Honor": The Link to Political Strategy

Protecting women from sexual violence came into its own as a political stratagem after the industrial revolution. During the U.S. Civil War and in the varied British colonial conflicts, war-related sexual violence against women (particularly upper-class women) was viewed in a paternalistic light. Elite masculine culture began to construct the notion of protecting women's "honor" as a discursive strategy directed against undermining the enemy and weakening his legitimacy. Informed by a colonial culture that designated the white male "superior" to the "inferior" dark male, numerous rules and statutes were drafted to defend (white) women's "honor" (Hodes, 1999). Within this context, women were certainly viewed as property; but they were granted a paternalistic cordon of protection against allegedly over-sexed, barbarous male enemies (Said, 1979). Certainly these patriarchs who protected "their" women engaged in sexual assaults against women (and men) of color with great frequency, but this contradiction passed largely unmentioned and unquestioned (Hodes, 1999).

The discourse surrounding the "defilement of women" served to draw an artificial boundary between "civilized" and "uncivilized" manhood. In this way, the alleged defense of women against enemy depradations justified one male group's action against another male group and, indeed, served to justify colonialism overall. The language of women's "honor" continued to play an integral role in warfare and expansionist politics up until World War Two (Spierenberg, 1997).

After the Second World War, women's experiences of violence diminished in their strategic utility, as colonialism withered and western states moved from an identity of civilizers of colonial subjects to promoters of capitalist democracy in a Cold War context. During the Cold War, conflict became a more abstract and distant enterprise, at least for the political elite. The elite masculinist identity informing this political era was more intellectual and detached, as opposed to emotive and engaged. Within this new context, the notion of rescuing females in distress seemed anachronistic; there were "better" things for political man to do.

Pre-Cold War Cold War
Men defend women's honor Rape is unfortunate "Standard Operating Procedure"
Recognition of sacrifice of young males: "mothers sacrifice their sons" Men described as disembodied "units" of service and/or body count
Ethical claims used in propaganda to justify war, such as "justice," "honour," "duty" Increased use of utilitarian claims such as "strategic objectives" and "balance of power"
Sources: The Legitimacy of the Modern Age by Robert M. Wallace (Cambridge University Press, 1986), and Sin and Fear: The Emergence of a Western Guilt Culture 13th-19th centuries by Jean Delumeau (New York University Press, 1990). Sources: 36 declassified US State Dept. documents pertaining to Vietnam War from 1965-1970, including the Calley Court Martial

Post-Modern Framings of Women's "Honor"

As we have seen, then, the concept of wartime sexual assault tends to fluctuate, depending on the strategic objectives of the state and prevailing cultural norms. In all cases, though, sexual assault has tended to be viewed through a patriarchal lens. Men's experiences as victims remain invisible in part because of the inherently homophobic nature of dominant cultures, while women's experiences, if recognized, are used opportunistically for strategic purposes. In this section, we offer an empirical account of how and why the campaign against war rape (from a heterosexist, paternalistic perspective) was discursively revived after the Cold War by elite political actors. We will also demonstrate at considerable length how non-elite actors, such as human rights organizations, women's groups, and feminist-influenced scholars, contributed to the selective and instrumental deployment of wartime sexual assault as a strategic motif. We identify, for example, how NGOs constructed a limited "maternalistic" definition of sexual violence in wartime. We contend that this "maternalistic" definition ironically complements and entrenches older paternalistic norms involving war rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Political Elites

With the exception of Canada, it was not until 1991 that western states like the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands began to recognize war-related sex crimes in their foreign policy statutes (Brabandt and Del Zotto 2002). Acknowledgment of these crimes, however, still only granted females recognition as victims, not males.

One common theory explaining this sudden recognition of wartime sexual violence against women is that well-organized and well-connected NGOs in the 1990's were able, allegedly for the first time, to document such crimes (Allen, 1992). We argue that this claim is incorrect, for the following reasons. First, the congressional and parliamentary transcripts from the U.S., Canada and Europe clearly indicate that speakers representing long established NGOs and faith communities ( such as CEDAW, Amnesty International and Catholic Charities) were the primary NGOs to influence policy concerning war related sexual assault in Bosnia in 1992 (Del Zotto, 2001). Second, most of the smaller NGOs representing issues of women, war and violence did not even appear on the scene until well after that time (ibid.). Therefore, what actually occurred on the part of the political elite was that political leaders took the issue of war related sex crimes more seriously for strategic reasons, not because of NGO pressure. They appropriated the discourses of established NGO actors and institutionalized them for the first time to address conditions in Bosnia. The reason why, suddenly, the issue of war related sex crimes gained greater political currency after nearly three decades of informal dialogue between NGOs and elites, was that the issue suddenly complimented elite actors' new, emerging Post Cold War identity.

As Evelyn Goh posits, states create identities based on foreign policy interests. They reproduce a certain role vis-à-vis other states, with specific sets of discourses and practices to further strategic interest through the use of this role (Goh, 2000). In a post- Cold War era, the United States, and its allies, require a new identity to fit the needs of a new world order. Part of this identity involves the revival of the old Victorian mission of "defending women's honor." The key "ingredients", if you will, for this identity construction ironically lies within the language and concepts of many of the well respected NGOs that had previously lobbied so unsuccessfully for so long. Suddenly, for political elites, there was strategic value in recognizing this discourse.

After the end of the Cold War, the United States became the de facto leader in a multi-polar world order. The end of the Cold War gave rise to "Balkanization" and "rogue states." The U.S. national security apparatus, along with its European allies, needed to find ways of addressing numerous and fragmented adversarial actors (Aruri, 2001). Identity construction, on the part of political elites, involved a reversion back to a more direct and intimate approach to politics. As Lily H.M. Ling rightly posits, the "New World Order" gives rise to a revived, quasi-Victorian, paternalistic identity of the political elite. Therefore, once again, the enemy is framed as the "barbarian" and west state is framed as the "gentleman" (Ling, 2000).

Figuring prominently in this re-invention of political identities is the role of women as property that ought to be defended. Practices linked to this identity are reproduced through a complex human rights regime involving both state and non-state actors, with the West playing a central role (ibid.). Western political actors selectively appropriate certain discourses and norms from non-governmental organizations for strategic purposes, while dismissing others (Aruri, 2001)

Part of this strategy, therefore, is to institutionalize the recognition of war sex crimes as a way of justifying, military and diplomatic involvement in certain regions. However, precisely because institutionalized recognition of war sex crimes performs a strategic function, the construction and discursive reproduction of this human rights problem calls attention to certain types of victims, while ignoring others. Therefore, the experiences of women from certain regions are privileged over the experiences of women from other regions. Within this strategic framework it goes without saying that the experiences of male victims are completely absent from the process. One measure of this is statistics on asylum and refugee claims. Between 1998 and 2000, over a half-million women applied for asylum or refugee status in the U.S. based on gendered persecution, including war-related persecution.(3) Meanwhile, approximately 70,000 men apply for U.S. asylum each year (over the past 10 years), representing 15% more applications than women. How many applications cited sexual violence? None. A possible reason is that according to the international Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, men reporting sexual violence are obliged to state they are gay. Even when this is truly the case, they must prove that harm was state-sanctioned and related to their homosexuality. There is thus no room for war-related violence targeted against males, whether gay or straight - at least as far as US and UK asylum policies are concerned. (Source: January 2001 Report on Asylum of Political Persecution, GLHRC, U.S.). An examination of 36 asylum cases involving women and 44 involving men found that all but two women were questioned by INS officials as to whether they faced sexual danger in their homeland; none of the males was asked a similar question (U.S. Justice Department Immigration Briefs, 1997-2001).

A hermeneutic reading of 360 transcripts from the U.S. Congress and State Department as well as British, German, and Canadian parliaments between 1977 and 1989 indicates that rape and sexual assault in wartime have been defined as exclusively heterosexual (more specifically, male-on-female) acts. The framework throughout was informed by a narrow definition of sexual assault stemming from a monolithic view of masculine power and a one-dimensional interpretation of female victimization.

Much the same trend was evident, and for similar reasons, in the case of the war against the Taliban regime that began in October 2001. As one observer noted, the fact "that support for the war is not monolithic" explained "why the [Bush] administration has taken pains to sell the war as being against people who are mean to women" (independent pollster John Zogby). Taliban atrocities against males - including the genocidal massacres of hundreds of defenseless males of "battle age" in the months prior to September 11 - aroused barely a whisper of disapproval from U.S. officials, at the time or subsequently. The rhetorical and policy focus on women's plight was accompanied, in the United States, by a series of measures designed to place younger males of Middle Eastern and South Asian extraction under surveillance and, if deemed necessary, arbitrary detention in the U.S. President Bush defended his call for thesemen to "voluntarily" present themselves for security-related "interviews" as follows: "We're saying, 'Welcome to America. You come to our country, why don't you help make us safe? Why don't you share information with us? Why don't you help protect innocent people, women and children?" (quoted in Sanger, 2001, emphasis added). On October 21, 2001, Bush signed a presidential determination paper that would increase refugee flows to the U.S., with a strong emphasis on women fleeing repression (Source: Hiram Ruiz, U.S. Committee for Refugees, December 3rd, 2001; USCR, Washington, DC).

Non-Governmental Organizations

Contrary to popular belief, efforts by non-governmental groups to promote and institutionalise an awareness of sexual assault in wartime are not new; they did not arise with the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, though that war did lead to an explosion of interest in the subject. In reality, from the 1970s onwards various feminist organizations, particularly in the West, vigorously lobbied for improved recognition of war-related sex crimes (Kelson, 1999). Their demands, in general, were not taken seriously (Askin, 1997).

At the same time, activists' constructions of war sex crimes were highly gendered. This is because much of western feminist epistemology (partially that which arose in the early 1970s) was informed by a narrow construction of masculinity and male power - and perhaps also by a narrow construction of female victimization, depicting it as exclusively imposed by males. This construction is based on conventional stories of how masculinities and femininities are made. It posits that males are pressured to act and feel in dominant, often violent ways. The pressure for conformity is institutionalized and condoned, leading to accepted acts of violence against women. Clearly, this conventional narrative contains a great deal of truth; but it is also strikingly incomplete. It tends to skate over the varying degrees of power that men possess, and the diversity of victimization experiences that result from expression of that power (Kimmel, 1996). Likewise, it is deeply reluctant to confront the issue of female-on-female and female-on-male violence, phenomena that have only recently and tentatively begun to find a place in the feminist literature on gender and violence. These narrow constructions of masculinity and femininity, violence and power, tend not only to inform but fundamentally to determine human rights policies and activism to the present day.

What activists demanded, beginning in the 1970s, was the construction of international human rights legislation and domestic refugee laws that recognized and confronted women's experiences in wartime (Askin, 1997). On the one hand, men are, indeed, granted greater recognition in international law and in the refugee policies of states (ibid.). But it is only under the rubric of traditional "masculine" forms of persecution (e.g., forced conscription, torture for political beliefs, etc.) that men are recognized; and even here, the gender variable has tended to be downplayed, generating none of the gender-informed concern that women have increasingly received.

There are, however, forms of violence that males (particularly male children, youths, and young men) experience disproportionately that pass unrecognized and unattended-to in both international and domestic spheres. This is an important nuance in human rights construction that most activists, lawyers, scholars, and policymakers fail to address. To our knowledge, no international organization or NGO has established a research program or policy initiative specifically focused on male victims of sexual violence in wartime; and not a single international NGO mentions wartime sexual violence against males in its annual report. These are oversights that in our view urgently need to be addressed and rectified.

Some indication of the power of the dominant framework can be found in a random sample of 60 NGO reports that address the issue of sexual assault in wartime (covering the Balkans, Africa, South Asia, and even the U.S.). This study turned up the following data:

- 19 of the reports actually used the phrase "war against women" as a central one in their literature.
- 58 framed victims of sexual assaults solely as "women" and/or "girls." The remaining two used the generic phrase "person."
- 13 referred to sexual torture as deriving from male heterosexual desire (all were agencies based in the Third World).
- 24 evinced a preoccupation with female "honor" (sexual assault reduces or eliminates the female's chances of marriage, etc.). This construction pervaded both western and non-western sources, including reports by the respected organization Human Rights Watch.
- Seven, including OXFAM, did mention the sexual exploitation of male children, though never in the context of war and ethnic conflict.

This general summary does not do justice to the tone and detailed comments of the reporting in question. The Equality Project, for example - a small NGO that involves itself in a variety of issue-related lobbying campaigns, including war-related sexual violence - writes: "While systematic rape as a war tactic is certainly an attack on a certain country [sic], more accurately, it is a specific attack against women. If that were not true, rape camps would alsohave men and male children them and not only women and girls" (Equality Project Annual Report, 2001). The claim, and its dismissive phrasing, ignores the fact that "rape camps" is a highly-politicized term that has been deployed only when and to the extent that females are targeted for sexual assault. The Bosnian-Serb camp of Omarska, for example, has been designated as a "rape camp" solely by virtue of the sexual assaults inflicted on the tiny minority of women who were held there, and not because of the apparently severe sexual violence inflicted upon males, who constituted a vast majority of inmates (see further below). UNICEF, for its part, writes: "When war hits women and girls nothing is held sacred or protected. The world is suddenly thrown into a desolate moral vacuum" ("When War Hits Home," UNICEF Action Report, 2000). The semantic logic of the assertion suggests that so long as violence, including sexual violence, is limited to male victims, it constitutes "moral" behavior, or at least does not overturn established moral precepts; women, on the other hand, are "sacred" and must be "protected."

Digging hard outside the boundaries of this random sample, we turned up some NGO literature that did acknowledge the phenomenon of male-on-male sexual violence in wartime, occasionally even proposing possible strategies for amelioration.(4) A couple of examples are offered here as indications that such a framing is, in fact, conceivable. We stress again, however, that most of these comments are presented briefly and in passing - none of the reports in question, and no other to our knowledge, specifically focuses on male victims of sexual violence in wartime.

One of the sharpest recent analyses is provided by the World Health Organization, which notes:

While some legal and social networks, however rudimentary, may exist for women and girls who have been sexually attacked, there is rarely anything comparable for male victims. In some countries, the legally defined crime of rape may only apply to women. Like women, men may experience profound humiliation, and they may also experience a sense of confusion about their sexuality. In addition, in societies where men are discouraged from talking about their emotions, they may find it even more difficult than women to acknowledge what has happened to them. For these reasons, it is suspected that the reported cases of sexual violence against males are a fraction of the true number of cases. ... There may be an underlying incidence of sexual violence against adult males, adolescents and young boys, which continues or escalates during conflict or displacement. In addition, rape of men and boys may occur during armed conflict as an act of domination by an opposing military group, and sexual violence against men and boys may occur in prison or detention. Adolescent boys may be at greatest risk in all of these circumstances (World Health Organization, n.d.).(5)

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also acknowledged the sexual victimization of men and boys, albeit briefly and in passing (in a report specifically focused on "The Impact of Armed Conflict on Women":

Rape, forced prostitution, sexual slavery and forced impregnation are all criminal means and methods of warfare that have attracted more and more attention in recent years, mainly because of the widespread reporting of such acts in recent conflicts. Sexual violence has in fact always been used against women and girls - and to a lesser extent against men and boys - as a form of torture used to degrade, intimidate, and ultimately defeat and chase away targeted populations. Sexual violence, including rape, is brutal and terrifying for its victims and the whole community. It constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law (International Committee of the Red Cross, 2001).

The set of elite discourses and practices that exclude men's experiences overall, and tend also to exclude the experiences of women outside the Balkans, is in turn reproduced by NGOs. There are currently 4,076 non-governmental groups that address war rape and other forms of political sexual violence (Del Zotto, 2001). Out of this number, only 3% mention the experiences of males at all in their programs and informational literature. About one quarter of the groups explicitly deny that male-on-male violence is a serious problem. Typical is the "Report on War and Sexual Violence" released by the Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Washington, DC) in June 2000. The report stated that "In war, rape is an assault on both the individual and her family and community. Many hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped in wars for centuries." The entire issue of PTSD relating to war-related sexual violence omits men as victims and offers solutions/treatment programs focusing only on females.

Most of these organizations operate as think-tanks, and do not provide direct services to survivors of wartime sexual violence. Indeed, fewer than 60 organizations out of 4,076 actually provide direct services to victims (among them Physicians for Human Rights, Doctors Without Borders, the United Methodist Church, and Catholic charities). All provide services to women and girls only. Of these direct service organizations, a full 87% are tied to services for women in the Balkans. The rest focus on Africa and the Middle East; and all provide services only to women and girls (Del Zotto, 2001). There are no major organizations that address the political repression of, and sexual violence against, women in Latin America, although numerous such agencies existed in the 1980s (Brabandt and Del Zotto, 2002). Clearly, the NGO regime addressing war-related sexual violence is highly politicized. Although sexual violence in a context of war and political repression is a feature of numerous states, and victimizes both sexes, the overwhelming focus currently is on women, in particular Balkans women. Why is this so?

One key reason is that NGOs rely on both government and private funding to operate their services (Edwards and Hulme, 1996). While some of the donations come from private individuals, 95% of funds come from the other two sources (ibid.). Thus, NGOs are highly dependent on the agendas of both states and private enterprise to fund their services and other initiatives (Loescher, 1992). When congressman Tom Lantos in 1992 declared, "America has a duty to the safety and well-being of the world's women" (state department article, declassified, June, 2000), he was referring specifically to women in the Balkans, a strategic region where the defense of "women's honor" would gain greater visibility in diplomatic circles, and to which much of US and European military and strategic assistance is directed (Aruri, 2001). Hence, the U.S. and Europe (government and private sector combined) continue to funnel millions of dollars annually to NGOs to assist women in the Balkans, while presenting this as a universal impulse to "improv[e] the quality of life for the world's women" (Department of State 2001). Sixty-seven companies and corporate trusts, including The Soros Foundation, Time Warner and the Vatican Trust, contribute annually to female survivors of sexual violence in the Balkans and nowhere else (Del Zotto, 2001) . No other region receives the level of funding and services for similar causes anywhere else in the world. Additionally, not one corporate donor mentions the conditions of men and boys in its annual report (ibid.) (corporate donors include the Soros Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Goldman Trust).

We certainly do not wish to downplay the horrors faced by women in the Balkans. But we do wish empirically to demonstrate how the regime of humanitarian assistance forms a complex network reflecting well-defined strategic interests. In terms of war and sexual violence, the nexus leads to a highly-gendered provision of services conforming to the re-emerging paternal political identity. The U.S. constructs a role as a protective father-figure, rescuing women in distress from hostile, sexually agressive forces. This echoes past constructions of the U.S. saving foreign women from their barbarous male counterparts during the Spanish American War, U.S. intervention in the Philippines and China, and World War One (Campbell, 1992). The nexus also conforms to the gender biases embedded in the non-governmental organizations and service agencies themselves.

Humanitarian assistance is a complex and highly-politicized enterprise. Those in the humanitarian assistance network who provide direct services do have the ability to "change the rules" at the grassroots if they so choose. In this way, assisting male as well as female victims of wartime sexual assault is indeed possible, as long as it is recognized by those providing direct services. Proof of this contention can be found in the laudable activities of the Croatian psychiatrist Mladen Loncar, himself a survivor of detention in a Serb prison camp, whose interest in the phenomenon of sexual violence against men "sprang from the fact that when himself in captivity in Serbia he saw a fellow prisoner get castrated. He is currently treating 54 patients (both Croats and Muslims) for castration, rape, blows to the genitals, weights attached to testicles and so on" (Le Nouveau Quotidien, 1995).(6) Loncar has been clear, in his published writing, about both the scale and character of sexual violence against Balkans men: "This torture was perpetrated systematically and in an organised fashion, without the presence of sexual pleasure in the perpetrators. It was an act expressing aggression, seeking to bring about the psychological and physical destruction of the victim."(7)

Too often, however, provision of such services must proceed in clandestine fashion. After all, if a medical worker who receives funds targeted specifically at a supposedly feminized problem chooses to assist male clients, she must do so without her superiors' knowledge; doing otherwise could undermine future funding, wider NGO and diplomatic ties, and so on. Helping male clients in an atmosphere of institutional fear or rejection can thus be counter-productive. Accordingly, a micro-level approach to assisting male victims of wartime sexual violence remains strictly limited, indeed almost unheard-of. And at the macro-level, it is safe to say that as long as the work of political and humanitarian actors continues to be informed by narrow definitions both of men/masculinities and sexual violence in wartime, the hidden casualties of war - sexually exploited male victims - will continue to be denied the services they so desperately need.

While political elites may continue to be guided by such paternal and homophobic constructions, it is hard to see why humanitarian organizations should fall into the same predicament. If human rights groups purport to bear witness to issues that go largely ignored and unreported by the powers-that-be, they ought to make it their sworn duty to expand the understanding of human violence in ways that transcend stereotypes based on gender. In this regard, NGOs clearly have a great distance yet to travel.

The preceding sections have explored the role of formal political actors and NGOs in constructing sexual victimization in wartime. We have argued that the origins of the blinkered mindsets that now pervade the analysis lie in both the paternalistic/patriarchal mindsets of old, and the exigencies of political strategy and foreign policy. Another element, however, is obviously influential: the framing of sexual violence by feminist scholars and activists. In the following section, we examine how feminism has framed sexual violence in the Balkans context, and the omissions and oversights that have marked the endeavor to this point.

Feminism and Sexual Victimization in the Balkans Wars

With the possible exception of the mass sexual assaults in Bangladesh's war of independence,(8) the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s gave the modern feminist movement its first opportunity to draw attention to women's gender-specific victimization in conflict situations. Building upon the movement to confront rape and sexual assault in western societies, feminist attention to Balkans women's suffering resulted in an extraordinary explosion of scholarly investigation and activist endeavour.(9) The results were impressive. Rape was probably the crime that figured most prominently in international media accounts of the conflict.(10) It became the subject of numerous fact-finding expeditions, and a principal focus of NGO organizing and publicizing. It resulted in the decision by the United Nations Security Council to "recogniz[e] rape as a punishable offense under international humanitarian law" in drafting the charter for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (see Meron 1996, p. 428).(11) In February 2001, three Bosnian Serb soldiers were convicted for acts of rape and torture inflicted on Muslim women and girls by paramilitary forces in the city of Foca in April 1992. The trial saw "rape ... clearly established as a war crime when used as an instrument of war and a crime against humanity when it was widespread and systematic" (, 2001 [paraphrasing comments by CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour]).

It would be an overstatement to suggest that men figured in these accounts of women's sexual victimization only as the brutal perpetrators of the acts. One thing that nearly all commentators have agreed on is that the rape of women in highly-patriarchal cultures (such as those of the Balkans) is usually intricately coded, aimed directly if not physically at male members of the community. As noted earlier, to rape a female is symbolically to emasculate any male charged with protecting her physical and moral integrity. To emasculate community males at the same time as its women are violated and humiliated is to attack the very social institutions - the rules and unspoken understandings - that bind the culture together. In Bosnia this appears to have been carried further, in a more systematic way, than anywhere else in recent history: even in Bangladesh, rapes were not generally inflicted as a means of cowing entire populations or forcing them to flee (Helsinki Watch reported in 1993 that "The effect of rape is often to ensure that women and their families will flee and never return") (Helsinki Watch, 1993, p. 21).

Uppermost in all these analyses, however, is a definition of sexual violence that is limited exclusively to female victims (as far as direct assaults are concerned, at least) and male perpetrators. At no point in the feminist study of the Balkans wars, until very recently (see below), has there been a serious attempt to explore the subject of male sexual victimization. As with the NGO literature we have considered, feminist scholars and activists occasionally make passing reference to abuses against men and boys, but this comes more or less as an afterthought, with little serious attempt to probe the problem beyond the token mention of it.

Consider, in this context, probably the most prominent book-length treatment of rape and sexual assault in the Balkans wars: Alexandra Stiglmayer's edited volume, Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Roy Gutman's forward to the volume notes that "Sexual humiliation was not restricted to females; in repeated instances, men held in detention camps report being forced to commit sexual acts on each other and to witness public castrations that prisoners had to carry out against each other" (Gutman, 1994, p. x). This appears, however, to be the only reference to male sexual victimization in the entire book. The theoretical treatment of "War and Rape," by Ruth Seifert, makes no mention of the phenomenon. Stiglmayer's own contribution to the volume, an 87-page chapter titled "The Rapes in Bosnia-Herzegovina," includes a commendable passage on the atrocities at the Omarska death camp, but does not analyze them under the rubric of sexual victimization. She devotes a separate section to "the suffering of Muslim and Croatian rape victims," noting that "we frequently forget that Serbian women in Bosnia-Herzegovina are also being raped" - with no mention of the "frequently forg[otten]" fact that men of various ethnicities were also targeted for sexual violence. There is not so much as a footnote devoted to the subject (Stiglmayer, 1994b, pp. 87-88, 137-44). Catharine MacKinnon's two chapters in the volume typify another strategy, perhaps the more common one, for eliminating the male victim from the analysis: define rape and sexual assault in a way that utterly excludes consideration of males. For MacKinnon, "Rape is a daily act by men against women; it is always an act of domination by men over women" (MacKinnon, 1994, pp. 188-89; second emphasis added). Rhonda Copelon strikes a similar stance: "Every rape is an expression of male domination and misogyny, a vehicle of terrorizing and subordinating women" (Copelon, 1994, p. 213; emphasis added).

An interesting recent treatment of the theme of rape in Bosnia is Caroline Kennedy-Pipe and Penny Stanley's chapter, "Rape in War: Lessons of the Balkan Conflicts in the 1990s." The chapter outlines "five different patterns" of rape:

In the first, the rapes were committed before the fighting actually broke out. Individuals would target villages, terrorise the inhabitants and loot and rape. During [sic] the second pattern, rapes, some apparently opportunistic, occurred in conjunction with invasion. Women were raped either in empty houses or gang-raped in public. In a third pattern, women were raped while in detention: here gang rapes were common and many of the rapes were accompanied by torture. During [sic] the fourth pattern, attacks occurred in so-called "rape camps." This pattern ws marked by frequent rapes with an alleged strategy by the captors to impregnate as many women as possible with "Chetnik" babies. In a fifth pattern, women were forced into makeshift "brothels" to entertain troops and "after they had served their purpose [were] more often killed than released" (Kennedy-Pipe & Stanley, 2001, pp. 73-74).

What is most intriguing about this passage is not only that it entirely excludes the male victim, but that it bases its findings on the report of the U.N. Commission of Experts (the Bassiouni Report, discussed further below). This includes frequent and detailed accounts of the sexual victimization of men; but for the authors, no "pattern" of such victimization can be discerned, or is deemed relevant to their analysis. The exclusion of males from those "raped while in detention" is especially egregious, since this is where most of the sexual assaults of men occurred, almost certainly on a much larger scale than rapes of detained women (for the simple reason that vastly more males than females were detained).(12)

Male Sexual Victimization in the Balkans Wars:
Accounts and Scholarly Treatments

As the above account has illustrated, attention to male victims of sexual violence in wartime has been fragmentary when it is not been entirely lacking. There are, nonetheless, some sources that are of use in gauging the scale and character of the phenomenon, and we attend to a representative sampling here.

Perhaps the most extensive single source on male sexual victimization to have surfaced during the Balkans wars was the United Nations Commission of Experts' Final Report, commonly known as the Bassiouni Report after its chair, M. Cherif Bassiouni of Algeria. Published early in the conflict, in 1992, the report addressed the broad issue of sexual assault and torture in the Balkans conflicts. Reading it, however, Dubravka Zarkov (see further below)

was shocked to find how many of the incidents of sexual violence actually referred to men as victims. A number of sexual assaults on men were described: beating men across the genitals and forcing them to undress; rape and assault by foreign objects; castration and the severing of testicles. ... Sometimes prisoners were forced to perpetrate acts of violence against each other, while on other occasions prison guards were the offenders. ... The Bassiouni Report also stated that these crimes were committed mainly in detention, and by all warring sides. ... In its conclusion, the Report states that sexual assaults in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia were systematic and used with a clear political purpose. But it does not make it clear that that [sic] the findings refer to sexual assault against both women and men. Those who do not read the whole report have no access to its detailed account of the crimes against men, and might easily presume that the conclusion refers only to women. The Bassiouni Report makes it clear that men were also subjected to widespread, systematic sexual violence (Zarkov, 2001, p. 71).

The leading human-rights NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch/Helsinki Watch, also published detailed treatments of abuses and atrocities committed during the Balkans wars which allowed a careful reader to discern evidence of the systematic sexual victimization of males. No specific reports on the subject were ever issued, however, despite the fact that both organizations published special reports on female victims of rape and sexual assault.

In 1994, one of the present authors (Jones) published an article on "Gender and Ethnic Conflict in ex-Yugoslavia," calling for "a more nuanced and inclusive approach to the gender variable" as it was influencing the course of war and atrocity in the Balkans. Specifically, such an approach "should devote consideration to 'men qua men,' that is, to men as bearers of masculinity, and to the distinctive life experiences that derive from maleness" (Jones 1994, pp. 115-16). Among these experiences was "the kind of sexual torture and humiliation regularly visited upon women in the Balkan conflict." The article cited an Amnesty International reference to "allegations of instances of male prisoners in detention under the control of both Serbian and Bosnian Government forces being made to perform sexual acts with each other," and described an instance of "sexual torture at the hands of women guards."(13) According to Dubravka Zarkov's recent appraisal, this "was the first [piece of scholarship] to assert that the war in former Yugoslavia produced gender-specific violence against men, including sexual violence." Overall, however, Zarkov noted that "the number of academic texts that mention men as victims of sexual violence could be counted on the fingers of one hand":

People who have lived through armed conflicts around the globe know that sexual violence against men, even if random and with fewer victims than violence against women, has been a fact of war for hundreds of years. In the contemporary wars, however, it is a rather well-hidden fact. Experts in the field of conflict studies, or aid workers, may know about it. But a war rape of a man was never a major story in the press, nor castration in a war camp on the evening television news. I had hardly heard of it myself ... (Zarkov, 2001, p. 72).

Though it drew extensively on the Bassiouni Report, Zarkov's article itself appears to be the first reasonably-detailed article-length (let alone book-length) treatment of male sexual victimization in the Balkans wars published outside the Balkans.(14) In a powerful passage, she argued that "perceiving men only and always as offenders and never as victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence is a very specific, gendered narrative of war. In that narrative, dominant notions of masculinity merge with norms of heterosexuality and definitions of ethnicity and ultimately designate who can or cannot be named a victim of sexual violence in the national press."(15) As her reference to "the national press" indicates, however, Zarkov's principal concern in the chapter is to examine how male sexual victimization was presented in Croatian and Serbian mass media, after first passing through the filter of nationalism.

Sexual Assault and the ICTY

The near-exclusive focus of political elites, international NGOs, and feminist academics and activists on female victims of sexual violence appears strongly to have influenced the framing of the ICTY's inquiry into war crimes in the Balkans, including rape and sexual violence. Typical were the events of November 1995, when the ICTY met on numerous occasions to discuss how the issue of rape and rape witnesses would be handled. On 5 November 1995, Dr. Sophie Clarin was asked to testify. She explicitly stated that "men and women were victims of rape." The judges asked in detail for Clarin's views as to how women witnesses should be treated in the trials. Not once did they ask about the fact that she had mentioned males as victims. Finally, on 28 November, the ICTY produced its mandate, outlining a protocol for rape witnesses. It explicitly said that the "ICTY will provide safety and confientiality for all women." Male victims were thus omitted, conceptually and de facto, from the trial process.

Further evidence of the ICTY's one-dimensional application of the framework of "rape and sexual assault" can be found in one of the most recent verdicts handed down at the time of writing: the conviction of five Bosnian Serbs for atrocities committed at the notorious Omarska camp in northwestern Bosnia between April and August 1992. Four of those convicted were camp commanders, and all five were found guilty of having inflicted a "hellish orgy of persecution" (in the words of presiding judge Almiro Rodrigues) against their Muslim and Croat victims (Gallagher, 2001). Among the atrocities cited were "the sexual assault and rape of Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs in Prijedor municipality, including prisoners in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps ..." All of the charges of sexual assault and rape, however, pertained to assaults against five female prisoners at the Omarska camp (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1999).

There are two points to be made here. First, according to Helsinki Watch investigators, the overwhelming majority of those incarcerated at Omarska (which "appears to have been the most brutal of the four Serbian-operated camps that were discovered by the press during the summer of 1982") were male. The figure given by the organization is 2,000 men and 33 to 38 women (Helsinki Watch, 1993, pp. 87, 89).(16) Second, abuses that could and should be considered rape and sexual assault were almost certainly rife against those men interned at Omarska - and very likely occurred on a far greater scale than rapes and sexual assaults against women. In his book Seasons in Hell, for example, Roy Gutman of Newsday writes of "several unconfirmed accounts - which may be exact or exaggerated - of prisoners being made to bite off the testicles of their comrades, to have sex with each other and with prison animals at gunpoint, of terrible mutilation, castration and worse. There was one case in which two men died from their wounds when they were hanged from a crane, and beaten, having previusly been forced to have sexual intercourse with each other and then castrated. Six men have testified independently to this episode at Omarska" (Gutman, 1994b, p. 108).

For its part, the ICTY had earlier stated, in its indictment of Dusan Tadic and Goran Borovnica for crimes committed at Omarska, that "both female and male prisoners were beaten, tortured, raped, sexually assaulted, and humiliated" in the camp. Such assaults frequently caused, or were followed by, death in the case of Omarska's male detainees, though no woman is known to have died as a result, or in the aftermath, of sexual assault.(17) As an example of male-specific victimization, the Tribunal stated that

A member of the group ordered "G" and "H" to lick Fikret HARAMBASIC's buttocks and genitals and then to sexually mutilate Fikret HARAMBASIC. "H" covered Fikret HARAMBASIC's mouth to silence his screams and "G" bit off one of Fikret HARAMBASIC's testicles. Emir KARABASIC, Jasmin HRNIC and Fikret HARAMBASIC died from the attack.

But all these charges were presented as examples of "great suffering or serious injury to body or health," "cruel treatment," and "inhumane acts" - not, specifically, rape and sexual assault. Only in the case of "F," a female detainee, were "rape" and "forcible sexual intercourse" specifically charged, and defined as in themselves a "violation of the laws or customs of war" under the Geneva Convention, and a "crime against humanity" under the Tribunal's statutes (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1995).(18)


The plight of male victims of war-related sexual violence (including male children) must be viewed in the context of a series of factors and forces that have resulted in the effective suppression of the phenomenon. Historical silence is one factor; the paternalistic and homophobic nature of the state, another. The NGO "explosion," which might be expected to offset the framings offered by elite political actors and institutions, has in fact done very little to address the issue of male victims and survivors. An exceedingly narrow construction of male dominance informs the work of most humanitarian groups. In turn, such groups depend for their funding and infrastructure on elite actors who rely strongly on masculine stereotypes to uphold and advance their political agendas.

International humanitarian regimes that promote women's causes often fail to recognize the multiple oppressions of non-elite males (in economic, educational, and health spheres, among others). Ironically, the failure to recognize the existence of non-elite males' experiences helps to further the interests of elite males. When one adds feminist framings into the mix, one can argue that feminism has simply given patriarchy more, and more useful, tools to pursue its interests. Perhaps the situation described here is endemic of our post-modern condition, with its many contradictions. We argue that non-elite men's oppression is in many ways intimately linked to female oppression, and that this is visible as well with the phenomenon of sexual violence in wartime.

Is there a way out of the conundrum? One possible avenue is suggested in an excellent passage in the World Health Organization's report on "Reproductive Health During Conflict and Displacement," cited earlier. The authors write:

The medical, legal and psychosocial responses to male victims of sexual violence are essentially the same as for female victims. They should, if possible, be seen by a doctor, protection officer, counsellor and interpreter of the same sex. Male staff should therefore receive training in responding to the needs of victims of sexual violence. ... Male victims of sexual assault are more likely to suffer significant physical trauma than female victims. Acute treatment of male patients should proceed in a manner that closely parallels female victims, including providing appropriate medical and preventive services based on the medical history and physical examination. Maintenance of an open, non-judgmental attitude is important as this will help to gain the confidence of the individual that has been attacked (World Health Organization, n.d., chapter 17).

Thus, elite political actors, non-governmental organizations, and feminist scholars and activists must all be pressed to incorporate the male victim into their analysis of wartime sexual violence, and to work to provide the necessary resources to meet that victim's needs. Until they do so, the prevailing framing of sexual violence in war will continue to be one-dimensional and woefully inadequate, and the survivors will continue to suffer in silence imposed from both within and without.


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1. In the domestic context, sexual violence against males in the prison system - which in the United States almost certainly accounts for more rapes and sexual assaults than the entirety of such assaults against women - has similarly been all but ignored by scholarship, the media, and human-rights organizations. A notable, and very recent, exception is Human Rights Watch (2001). The report cites a total of eight "primary empirical studies of sexual abuse in men's penal facilities" in the more than three decades since 1968.

2. The trend, of course, continues into the contemporary era with the "honor" killings widely practiced in Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Caucasian cultures, among others. See Gendercide Watch's case study of "'Honour' Killings and Blood Feuds," which links this type of vigilantism to its male-targeted equivalent, the blood-feud common in much the same range of societies (Gendercide Watch, 2000).

3. The proportion of claims made by regional origin breaks down as follows: Latin America, 3%; the Middle East and South Asia, 23%; Africa, 8%; East Asia, 55%; Balkans and Eastern Europe, 11%. As a proportion of claims actually accepted, the figures are as follows: Latin America, 3%; Middle East and South Asia, 6%; Africa, 7%; East Asia, 8.5%; the Balkans and Eastern Europe, 93%. Source: INS Statistical Yearbook, 1998, 1999, and 2000 editions; U.S. Department of State Refugee Data report, July 2001.

4. For an excellent bibliography of scientific and activist sources on the rape of males in western societies, see Orman (n.d.).

5. The report defines "gender-based and sexual violence" as "all forms of gender-based violence against women, including sexual violence, and also to all forms of sexual violence against men and boys." This framing can be criticized for limiting "gender-based violence" against men and boys to sexual violence alone; there are strong grounds for including other abuses and atrocities, such as gender-selective mass executions, roundups of men and adolescent boys for "security" reasons, and other phenomena under the rubric of "gender-based violence" against males. For an analysis that is apposite in this context, see Jones (2000).

6. The article adds: "While sexual abuses practised on women in Bosnia have received wide publicity, there has been a taboo on male rape stories, those daring to talk about them, for example on the diplmatic circuit, often being accused of talking nonsense. Time and again, says Loncar, the conspiracy of silence has been kept up, not least by the victims themselves: 'It's a cultural problem, not that the trauma is worse than with the rape of women, but the rape of men has a dimension that is "against nature."' Loncar puts at several thousand the number of male victims of sexual violence. All the men now in therapy initially refused it, perhaps because if it is dangerous everywhere to impugn a man's virility be impugned, it is doubly so in the Balkans."

7. Quoted from the abstract to Loncar's chapter in Arcel (ed.), n.d.

8. On Bangladesh, see Brownmiller 1975. Brownmiller's book also includes a chapter on male sexual victimization, though its focus is exclusively on U.S. domestic society (notably rape in prison and rape of homosexuals).

9. See, e.g., Stiglmayer, 1994; Allen, 1996; Sharratt & Kaschak (eds.), 1999; Nikolic-Ristanovic (ed.), 2000; and Mertus, 2000. For a very useful bibliography on "Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations," containing sections devoted to the issue of rape and sexual violence, see International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (n.d.).

10. Some of the more prominent media reports, feature stories, and opinion pieces on rape and sexual violence against women include Newsweek, 1993; Brownmiller, 1993; Drakulic, 1992 and 1993; and MacKinnon, 1993.

11. It is debatable whether this was as dramatic a departure from previous international practice as some feminists have contended. As Meron notes: "Rape by soldiers has of course been prohibited by the law of war for centuries, and violators have been subjected to capital punishment under national military codes, such as those of Richard II (1385) and Henry V (1419). Of more immediate influence on the modern law of war was the prohibition of rape as a capital crime by the Lieber Instructions (1863). ... Under a broad construction, Article 46 of the Hague Regulations can be considered to cover rape ['Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice must be respected'], but in practice it has seldom been so interpreted. Rape was neither mentioned in the Nuremberg Charter nor prosecuted in Nuremberg as a war crime under customary international law. But it was prosecuted in Tokyo as a war crime. Another seed for future normative developments was sown in Control Council Law No. 10, adopted by the four occupying powers in Germany as a charter for war crimes trials by their own courts in Germany. It expanded the list of crimes against humanity found in the Nuremberg Charter to include rape." As well, "There has already been considerable recognition that custodial rape, or rape in circumstances for which a government is liable under the law of state responsibility, violates the prohibitions of torture or inhuman treatment in international human rights." See pp. 425-26, notes 7, 12.

12. For example, at Omarska, the "most brutal of the four Serbian-operated camps that were discovered by the press during the summer of 1992," Helsinki Watch gave the population as 2,000 men and 33 to 38 women. See Helsinki Watch (1993), p. 87.

13. Ibid., pp. 131, 133 (notes 12, 23).

14. The important prior work, some of it published, by Dr. Mladen Loncar must not be overlooked here (see above).

15. Ibid., p. 69.

16. Roy Gutman estimates "that some 6,000 men were in Omarska at any one time," "several thousand" of whom "were brutally murdered" (Gutman, 1994b, p. 111).

17. On the eventual release of all female detainees at Omarska, see Helsinki Watch, 1993, p. 113 and n. 154.

18. The rape charge was eventually dropped from the indictment owing to the unwillingness of the alleged victim to testify.

Copyright 2002-2004 by Augusta Del Zotto and Adam Jones.
This paper may be freely quoted with appropriate citation, and may be distributed

for educational and other non-profit use, if the authors are credited and notified.


Gendercide and Genocide

Gendercide and Genocide

Edited by
Adam Jones

Vanderbilt University Press, 2004

The most wide-ranging book ever published on gender-selective
mass killing, or "gendercide," this collection of essays is
also the first to explore systematically the targeting of non-combatant
"battle-age" males in various wartime and peacetime contexts.

Link to further information
and a full table of contents.