There are many factors linked to rape as a weapon of war, a phenomenon facilitated by ongoing conflict. Widespread conflict leads to the interaction of poverty, lawlessness and struggle for power. It often hits women hardest due to their ascribed inferior status to men. Yet men are also a target of sexual violence in conflict. The underlying principles are comparable to those of violence against women, namely that perpetrators challenge the role of men as ‘protector,’ or in an attempt to “reduce” their manhood to an inferior, female status. Impunity, corruption and desperation create a fertile ground for sexual violence. Under these conditions, 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.