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This article first examines two types of causes of sexual violence in armed conflict: systemic, or more distant causes, and more proximate, or situational causes, including the role of "runaway norms." In the second part, the article draws from a phase model of conflict to understand the new wars and the types of sexual violence that they entail in different stages of conflict. One of the important contributions of this model is to highlight the multiple situations and ways women and the girl child especially (and sometimes others in society, including men and boys, though this is typically underreported) are at risk of sexual violence. It also shows how that risk leads to re-victimization throughout the cycle of conflict for many sexual assault survivors. In addition, it helps elucidate the complexity of "victimhood," as many victims are also forced to commit atrocities. The conclusions draw the relevance of these insights for thinking about policymaking to prevent sexual violence in armed conflicts, to identity perpetrators versus victims, and assist the survivors during and in the aftermath of conflict.


Copyright 2007 International Journal of Peace Studies.

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International Journal of Peace Studies

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Leatherman, Janie (2007). Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict: Complex Dynamics of Re-Victimization. International Journal of Peace Studies 12 (1): 53-71.

Peer Reviewed