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Wartime Sexual ViolenceWartime Sexual Violence

From Silence to Condemnation of a Weapon of War

Kerry F. Crawford

Narrated by Sheree Wichard

Available from Audible

Book published by Georgetown University Press

Reports of sexual violence in armed conflict frequently appear in political discussions and news media, presenting a stark contrast to a long history of silence and nonrecognition. Conflict-related sexual violence has transitioned rapidly from a neglected human rights issue to an unambiguous security concern on the agendas of powerful states and the United Nations Security Council. Through interviews and primary-source evidence, Kerry F. Crawford investigates the reasons for this dramatic change and the implications of the securitization of sexual violence.

Views about wartime sexual violence began changing in the 1990s as a result of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and then accelerated in the 2000s. Three case studies—the United States' response to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1820 in 2008, and the development of the United Kingdom's Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative—illustrate that use of the weapon of war frame does not represent pure co-optation by the security sector. Rather, well-placed advocates have used this frame to advance the antisexual violence agenda while simultaneously working to move beyond the frame's constraints. This book is a groundbreaking account of the transformation of international efforts to end wartime sexual violence.

Kerry F. Crawford is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at James Madison University. She was the recipient of the 2015-2016 James N. Rosenau Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship from the International Studies Association. This is her first book.


“Will be of interest not only to people studying wartime sexual violence and the global response to it but also to scholars of international norms, institutions, and security studies in general.”


“Rape has always been part of war as well as peace, but until the late twentieth century this was taken for granted or ignored. In this fascinating work, Kerry Crawford examines why states have recently started thinking about sexual violence as a weapon—and, therefore, as a problem in need of a global policy response. In doing so, she importantly reminds us what is lost when states begin thinking of rape as a weapon of war. For unlike other 'weapons of war,' rape is—fundamentally—a human rights violation against not states at all but against people.”

—Charli Carpenter, Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“Crawford offers a convincing historic overview of wartime sexual violence and a thorough analysis of the "weapon of war" trope. She astutely crafts her narrative at the intersection of the role of strategic framing and that of advocacy, and perceptively allows this tension to lead the reader on an insightful journey of how sexual violence in war became a credible security issue at the turn of the 21st Century. This book is an essential read for students and professionals alike who are in the peace and security fields, international law and public policy.”

—Kathleen Kuehnast, Director of Gender Strategy and Policy, United States Institute of Peace

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University Press Audiobooks