Rape and Rape Avoidance in Ethno-National Conflicts: Sexual Violence in Liminalized States



Mass rape is a common but not universal occurrence in ethnic or nationalist conflicts. Using South Asian and Bosnian data, in this article I argue that mass rape is likely when such conflicts take place during the partition of a territory and its population, when the state itself is liminal, both its territory and control over it uncertain. In conflicts in which the state is not itself threatened, and thus groups feel that they will continue to coexist, there is some evidence that rape is avoided, even when murder is accepted. However, such instances of rape avoidance are largely unstudied, in large part because of the focus on the violence of mass rape. Further, this focus on violence tends toward classifying all sexual relations between groups whose members have participated in mass rape as improper, thus depriving women who may not wish to rejoin their natal groups of agency, [rape, genocide, violence, India, Yugoslavia/Bosnia]