Rape in War

     Rape has long been associated with war. Soldiers may be explicitly permitted to rape enemy captives as a means of further military objectives, since this may terrorize the enemy population and cause enemy civilians to flee. Rape may be permitted as a means of rewarding soldiers for victory in battle, as a means of incentivizing them to fight. Governments or warlords may use opportunity to rape and pillage to make up to soldiers for low pay.

    Usually in war zones there is lawlessness and lack of civil authority. Soldiers can take advantage of that to get away with raping enemy women. Gang rape may also become a means of bonding among soldiers.

     United Nations peace keepers are primarily soldiers from U.N. member states. These soldiers are often sent to places where the population has experienced severe economic and psychological hardship. Frequently the peace keepers themselves are the only sources of law and order, and uninterested in policing one another. Peace keeping soldiers have much wealth compared to the frequently impoverished locals, and have tremendous power, often controlling the flow of humanitarian aid. All this creates an environment ripe for sexual abuse to be perpetrated by peace keepers.

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A graphic accounting of rape in war zones from Time magazine.

‘How Did Rape Become a Weapon of War?’ from the BBC

An accounting of how rape is being used as a weapon in the Syrian civil war from the Atlantic magazine.

‘Rape of Men: The Darkest Secret of war’ from the Guardian.

A thorough examination of why UN peacekeepers are often guilty of rape from Al Jazeera.

An opinion peace about sexual abuse by UN peace keepers and what should be done about it from the Spectator.

Wartime Rape in the Torah

‘You will go to war against your enemies, God will deliver them into your hand and you will take captives. If you see amongst the captives a beautiful woman that you desire, you may take her. . . (Deuteronomy 21:10-12).’

Based on this verse the Torah seems to permit soldiers to rape captive women. The Rabbis, however, understood that this was not desirable conduct. The Talmud states that this permission is only the Torah’s concession to man’s evil inclination- if this rape was not permitted it would be done nonetheless. The Rabbis also place many limits, for example that a soldier is permitted a maximum of one woman, and that the soldier may not just leave the woman afterwards, but must care for her once he has taken her (Kiddushin 22a).

Human Rights Haggadah Blog

Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea

In The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea, Vannak Prum tells how he was taken from Cambodia and enslaved for years on a Thai fishing boat. His story shows how easily even today people can still be taken as slaves.

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