Added: January 2, 2016 – Last updated: January 2, 2016


Author: Debra B. Bergoffen

Title: How Rape Became a Crime against Humanity

Subtitle: History of an Error

In: Modernity and the Problem of Evil

Edited by: Alan D. Schrift

Place: Bloomington and Indianapolis

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Year: 2005

Pages: 66-80

ISBN-10: 0253345502 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | European History: Bosnian History | Types: Wartime Rape / Bosnian War


Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)


Author: Debra Bergoffen, Department of Philosophy, George Mason University

Abstract: »Not all the essays respond to the question of evil as posed by Kant. Some choose to respond in the context of a particular historical event. For example, Debra B. Bergoffen, in "How Rape Became a Crime against Humanity: History of an Error," uses a famous passage from Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols to raise the question: What does the death of God mean for the life of patriarchy? Bergoffen defines monotheistic patriarchy as a sociality where the social difference is rendered as the difference between man–the one who embodies truth, subjectivity, and justice–and woman, the inessential other, who partakes of truth, subjectivity, and justice only insofar as she reflects man's standard of truth, subjectivity, and justice back to him. Bergoffen finds that with the death of God the structure of monotheistic patriarchy also collapses insofar as the monotheistic God's death is also and necessarily the death of the idea of the one–one truth, one law, one standard of justice. A consequence of patriarchy's collapse is the necessary change in the meaning and criteria of what counts as a crime against humanity, and Bergoffen analyzes the recent rape convictions of Bosnian-Serb soldiers by the UN Yugoslavia war tribunal as suggesting that the implications of the death of God for the end of patriarchy are being felt. Drawing on Simone de Beauvoir's distinction between an other and an inessential other, Bergoffen suggests that the decision to classify wartime rape no longer as a necessary, albeit regrettable evil of war, but as a crime against humanity, holds the promise of changing the status of women from man's inessential other to his other. This changed status of women carries profound implications for a postpatriarchal notion of justice: once rape is understood as a crime against humanity, that is, once it is understood as a crime that violates the dignity and integrity of the lived woman's sexed body, women's vulnerability becomes the mark of the human. Violating her body becomes a violation of the trust that makes just human communities possible.« (Source: Alan D. Schrift. »Introduction.« Modernity and the Problem of Evil. Edited by Alan D. Schrift. Bloomington 2005: 6)


  The Other Error (p. 66)
  The Madman's Ghost (p. 68)
  Multiplying the Truth of Humanity (p. 68)
  Genocidal Rape: Deploying Women's Bodies as Weapons of War (p. 72)
  The Court Speaks (p. 75)
  Notes (p. 79)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Bosnia and Herzegovina | Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence | War: Bosnian War / Rape during the Bosnian War