Why Do Soldiers Rape? Masculinity, Violence, and Sexuality in the Armed Forces in the Congo (DRC)



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 53, Issue 4, 1181, Article first published online: 2 December 2009

  • Authors’ note: This article was made possible through the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida-Sarec). We extend our gratitude to the members of the FARDC, who gave generously of their time and their experiences, as to all those who facilitated our research in the DRC. We would also like to thank Kate Burns, Terrell Carver, Claes Wrangel, Marysia Zalewski, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on drafts of this article (and Claes for his help in preparing it for publication).


This article explores the ways soldiers in the Congo speak about the massive amount of rape committed by the armed forces in the recent war in the DRC. It focuses on the reasons that the soldiers give to why rape occurs. It discusses how the soldiers distinguish between “lust rapes” and “evil rapes” and argues that their explanations of rape must be understood in relation to notions of different (impossible) masculinities. Ultimately, through reading the soldiers’ words, we can glimpse the logics—arguably informed by the increasingly globalized context of soldiering—through which rape becomes possible, and even “normalized” in particular warscapes.