Rape in conflict zones is a weapon of war that is used to degrade, humiliate, and dehumanize civilian populations. History demonstrates that sexual violence during times of war is not a new phenomenon. However, the recent conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Liberia, and other parts of the world have brought increasing attention to the ways in which rape is used as a weapon of terror and, consequently, represents a barrier to peace.

During times of conflict, some military leaders encourage the use of sexual violence as a military strategy intended to increase the morale of troops, to demoralize the enemy, and to lay claim to the “spoils of war” (in this case, the women of the enemy). Although rape is the ...

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