Counting Male Victims, Recognizing Women Rapists and Revisiting Assumptions about Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (Book review)

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review



Sexual violence against men in global politics, edited by Marysia Zalewski, Paula
Drumond, Elisabeth Prügl, and Maria Stern, New York: Routledge, 2018, Pp. 255 +
index, $140.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9781138209909

Women as wartime rapists: beyond sensation and stereotyping, by Laura Sjoberg,
New York: New York University Press, 2016, Pp. 210 + notes + index, $30 (pbk), ISBN:

Rape during civil war, by Dara Kay Cohen, Ithaca and London: Cornell University
Press, 2016, Pp. 200 + Appendix + notes+ works cited + index, $26.95 (pbk), ISBN:
150170527X Research about conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) has predominantly focused on women as the victims of violence and ‘rape as a weapon of war’, with men as the perpetrators. Because CRSV was long ignored, women’s rights activists pushed for global recognition of women as victims of wartime rape through such means as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 passed in 2000. This resolution and the resulting WPS framework has shaped a mould for the way we understand how CRSV occurs and the way victims of violence are
identified. While this approach has been very successful in gaining attention for this issue, it has done so through a cissexist and heteronormative lens and at the expense of a more complicated understanding of the gendered dynamics at play. 
A new  generation of scholarship considers previously unexplored dimensions (CRSV against men, women as perpetrators, how recruitment impacts prevalence of rape in civil war) to better understand how and why sexual violence occurs in conflict-related environments. Understanding why CRSV occurs along with how to confront this violence requires new ways of thinking about what motivates perpetrators. Additionally, when CRSV against men and CRSV against women are considered together, it raises important challenges to gendered assumptions about femininity and masculinity, sexual orientation, gender identity and how power operates through acts of sexual violence. These assumptions are even further challenged when the motivations of women as wartime rapists are also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-530
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Intervention and Statebuilding
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019


  • sexual violence
  • conflict
  • gender-based violence
  • gender
  • torture

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