What causes rape as a weapon of war?

There are many factors linked to rape as a weapon of war, a phenomenon facilitated by ongoing conflict. Each context is unique, thought several underlying causes have been identified, for example poverty, lawlessness, corruption and patriarchy. With regard to the latter, Dr. Denis Mukwege has witnessed how it affects women disproportionately due to their ascribed inferior status to men. Understanding rape as a weapon of war, however, is complex and requires a holistic understanding of the conditions, causes and consequences of such behaviours. In all situations, rape is a powerful and ‘inexpensive’ tactic of war used by both state forces and other armed groups to terrorize and destroy individuals, families, and communities.

Yet, rape is not always used as a strategy of war in all conflicts. We must identify the causes that facilitate such atrocities.

Read more about the causes

What do we do?

In recent years, rape as a weapon of war has gained increasing prominence on international and national development agendas. We have a unique opportunity to enhance this momentum and accelerate our efforts all over the world.

The Mukwege Foundation aims to scale up our successful projects to support victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where for nearly two decades rape has been used as a weapon of war, and where state of the art healing programmes are established. We promote the successful holistic support model, which integrates medical, psychological, legal and socio-economic care, and aim to spread this practice to other countries. We work to influence government decision-makers and other policymakers to do what is needed in terms of policies and practice to end rape as a weapon of war. We aim to engage civil society in addressing these needs.

Read more about our strategies