Rape as a Crime of War: A Medical Perspective

Shana Swiss, MD; Joan E. Giller, MA, MB, MRCOG

Journal of the American Medical Association, 1993; 270:612-5

Although widespread, rape of women has been an underreported aspect of military conflict until recently. The current war in the former Yugoslavia has focused attention on the use of rape as a deliberate strategy to undermine community bonds and weaken resistance to aggression. In addition to providing treatment for individual survivors, the medical community has an important role to play in investigating and documenting incidents of rape. Such documentation can help to establish the magnitude of rape in war and hold perpetrators accountable. Since rape in war affects not only the individual but also the family and community to which the survivor belongs, the restoration of social and community bonds is central to the process of healing and must be addressed within the specific cultural setting.

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