Violence against women in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter examines the nature and extent of violence experienced by women in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) at the hands of both the Crown forces and the Irish Republican Army. It argues that targetted killings of women by either side was rare. The most common forms of such violence can be categorised as physical, gendered (cutting of hair) and psychological (intimidation and the killing of male relatives). It argues that there was a difference between gendered and sexual crime, the latter of which appears to have been very uncommon. A considerable part of the chapter uses theoretical literature on violence against women in conflict zones to explain why sexual violence was uncommon, arguing that neither side had much to gain from its employment, that the Crown forces were aware of the damage it could do to Britain's international reputation and that the terror tactics adopted by the Crown forces were sufficient to achieve their ends without resorting to rape. In regard to the IRA, the absence of any evidence of rape or sexual assault being perpetrated could be attributable to their Catholicism, reliance on support from the community, the efforts of the first Dáil to achieve foreign recognition of the Republic and the role of Cumann na mBan women in the guerrilla conflict. The historiography of women in the Irish revolution is also analysed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYears of Turbulence: The Irish revolution and its aftermath
EditorsDiarmaid Ferriter, Susannah Riordan
Place of PublicationDublin
PublisherUCD Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781910820070
Publication statusPublished - 03 Dec 2015


  • Irish revolution, women, rape, sexual violence, British Army, Irish Republican Army,


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