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Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare?


  • Elisabeth Jean Wood

    (Yale University,, Santa Fe Institute)


This article explores a particular pattern of wartime violence, the relative absence of sexual violence on the part of many armed groups. This neglected fact has important policy implications: If some groups do not engage in sexual violence, then rape is not inevitable in war as is sometimes claimed, and there are stronger grounds for holding responsible those groups that do engage in sexual violence. After developing a theoretical framework for understanding the observed variation in wartime sexual violence, the article analyzes the puzzling absence of sexual violence on the part of the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabeth Jean Wood, 2009. "Armed Groups and Sexual Violence: When Is Wartime Rape Rare?," Politics & Society, , vol. 37(1), pages 131-161, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:polsoc:v:37:y:2009:i:1:p:131-161

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
    2. Maja Korac, 2018. "Feminists against Sexual Violence in War: The Question of Perpetrators and Victims Revisited," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(10), pages 1-13, September.
    3. Mayra Buvinic & Monica Das Gupta & Ursula Casabonne & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 110-138, February.
    4. Maria Paula Saffon & Fabio Sánchez, 2019. "Historical grievances and war dynamics: Old land conflicts as a cause of current forced displacements in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 017320, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    5. Jeannie Annan & Christopher Blattman & Dyan Mazurana & Khristopher Carlson, 2009. "Women and Girls at War: Wives , Mothers, and Fighters in the Lord s Resistance Army," HiCN Working Papers 63, Households in Conflict Network.
    6. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.


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