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August 15, 2012

Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Program on Forced Migration and Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York.

JAMA. 2012;308(7):677-678. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9733

Sexual violence during times of conflict has been historically viewed as a spoil of war or as an individual act of violence rather than one that is politically or ideologically motivated. Today, however, there is an increased understanding that rape—the forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration of either a male or a female with either a person or an object—is used as a strategic and systematic tactic during armed conflict.1-3 This Viewpoint examines why sexual violence is an effective weapon of war, its health and psychosocial sequelae, and its association with other forms of gender-based violence.