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Ranier Ford Rape-A weapon of warfare Rape has always been a very present and shady subject in societies

around the world. It is often limited to ideas of dark alley ways at night, or provocative women enticing men‟s attention. The act of forced sexual behaviors during times of war is not generally associated with the term “rape” itself. However, rape has been used as a very powerful weapon of warfare since conflict began. Rape has origins in the societal male-female supremacy inequity. The cultural backdrop to rape becomes the expression of domination, oppression, and inequality towards women. Gender socialization of male entitlement over women‟s bodies preserves the cycle of objectification and violence against women. Rape becomes a symptom of “rape culture” in societies that view women‟s bodies as property and sexual pleasure as analogous to pain. Thus, rape during peacetime grows into a violent act from the socio-cultural root of inequality, gender socialization, commodification of women‟s sexuality, and the eroticism of dominance. Rape during war grows from the same general context; however, the root starts with local ethnic, religious, economic and social conflicts that give rise to violent hatred. During times of war, rape is generally not a random sexual act carried out by individual soldiers, but rather a deliberate military tool to tear apart individuals, families, and communities. The United Nations defined war rape as “a deliberate and strategic decision on the part of combatants to intimidate and destroy „the enemy‟ as a whole by raping and enslaving women who are identified as members of the opposition group” (Aginam, UN, 2013). Although rape is traumatic regardless of when it occurs; during war, rape tends to be of a greater magnitude, frequency, and intention. It is mostly perpetrated by armed or unarmed political/military agents to cause a multitude of consequences and trauma against non-combatant civilians, who are primarily women. Given the current understanding of the long-term effects of this type of trauma, it turns rape as a result of war into one of the most violent and effective tools of psychological weapons of

warfare. One of the many aftermaths a rape victim may experience is cultural ostracism and alienation from their families and/or the wider community. (War, Consultancy Africa). The consequences from a community or family members that knows that a woman has been raped leads to long-term cultural, social, and psychological ramifications. In order for the enemy to create these barriers, women are often dragged out of their homes to be raped in public to both demoralize a community and to distinguish who has been “tarnished” or “spoiled”. Symbolically, when others bear witness to the act or hear the victim‟s screams, the soldiers have defeated their enemy, not only physically but more importantly, psychologically. In cultures where the sanctity of a woman‟s sexuality is valued, displaying a woman‟s dishonor in the public area destroys the entire underlying social order of a community and the core self-worth of the victim. When women are publicly spoiled, families, communities, and cultures are destroyed too. Outsiders often describe the extent that women will be socially ostracized by their family and community, (Internet, 2013) and are horrified by what they see. It has been recounted that “…they (the family) would be better off shooting themselves…a sullied daughter is worse than a dead one to her father” (War, 2012). How, where, and in front of whom the rape is performed are all distinguishable features of war rape. War rape often occurs in the presence of three different audiences: other women (to instill fear), other soldiers (to promote solidarity), and other community members (to show complete suppression). When other women bear witness to a rape, they can speak of power of the invader and the horrific acts that have been inflicted on the victim. Rape in the context of war takes on such brutality that a woman lying bleeding in front of a perpetrator is no longer a human being, but a symbolic body to inflict hatred, violence, and pain. During war it is not uncommon for women to be held captive for the purposes of keeping soldiers sexually satisfied and efficiently mass raping as many women and girls as possible. Women and young girls, often still virgins, are held captive in rape camps where they are tortured, verbally and physically abused, and repeatedly raped. During the Nanking genocide, survivors recount how young girls were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery being “tied naked to chairs, beds, or poles as permanent fixtures of rape” (Change, 1997). The Japanese organized rape camps comprised of “comfort women” to alleviate boredom

and sexual aggression in their soldiers. During the six week time period, an estimated 60 000 and 200 000 Korean women were taken and assigned to Japanese soldiers. Rape under orders has a greater meaning of “rape unto death”. It is rape as massacre, rape to kill and rape to make the victims wish they were dead. The rule is made especially for the perpetrators in order for them to know that there are no limits on what they can or can‟t do. This rule often results in death because the victims can‟t do anything to protect themselves. (History, 1937). Rape occurs in conflict because by destroying the women, attackers are one step closer to wiping out their ethnic enemy. War rape is a tactic to extend violence to women because of their ethnic or social group; promote sexual dominance, hatred, and destruction; intimidate women and destroy their personal identity; and exploit women during their vulnerability while demoralizing men for a failure to protect their women. Word Count: 922 Bibliographies
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