Added: August 6, 2016 – Last updated: August 6, 2016


Author: Ebba Coghlan

Title: At war with honour?

Subtitle: Feminist perspectives on female honour and the regulation of wartime rape

Thesis: Bachelor Thesis, Lunds universitet (Lund University)

Advisor: Anna Bruce

Year: 2016

Pages: 32pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Prosecution: Laws; Types: Wartime Rape


Link: Lund University Publications (Free Access)



Wartime rape is old news, and most experts agree that for most of human history, war and rape have gone hand in hand. But although wartime rape is a centuries old phenomenon, it seems to have disinterested the international legal community for most of its existence. The current legislation regulating wartime rape in international humanitarian law (IHL) is decades, not centuries, old. This thesis will present a few of the reasons behind this previous disinterest, as well as some of the consequences.
The focus of this thesis will be on international humanitarian law, including war crimes. The development towards the prevailing regulations began in earnest at the end of the nineteenth century, and was not completed until the late 1970s. In order to understand this development, both the historical and the present-day regulations will be discussed, in combination with a modest introduction to some historical perceptions of women and rape. Furthermore, both the present-day regulations, and the historic development, will be analysed from a series of feminist perspectives, in order to understand whether perceptions of females and their roles in society may have affected legislation concerning wartime rape.
Regulations concerning wartime rape have been relatively slow to develop, and it was only with the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions that the controversial connection to ‘family honour and rights’ was removed in 1977. With this, focus moved from honour, to the individual victims experiences. The historical focus on honour is problematic, as it delegitimised the experiences of some victims - those not deemed to possess honour.« (Source: Thesis)


  Summary (p. 1)
  Sammanfattning (p. 2)
  Abbreviations (p. 3)
  1. Introduction (p. 4)
  1.1 Background (p. 4)
  1.1 Purpose (p. 5)
  1.2 Research Questions (p. 5)
  1.3 Delimitations (p. 5)
  1.4 Material (p. 6)
  1.5 Method (p. 6)
  1.6 Research status (p. 7)
  1.7 Structure (p. 7)
  2. Introduction to wartime rape (p. 8)
  2.1 The development of international humanitarian law and its regulation of wartime rape (p. 8)
  2.2 The development of war crimes (p. 10)
  3. The evolving perception of women and rape (p. 12)
  3.1 Women and sexuality (p. 12)
  3.2 Rape as an attack on honour (p. 12)
  4. Current regulations (p. 14)
  4.1 Definition of rape in international law (p. 14)
  4.2 Definition of an international armed conflict (p. 14)
  4.3 Wartime rape in international humanitarian law (p. 15)
  4.5 Wartime rape as a war crime (p. 16)
  4.5 Wartime rape in customary IHL (p. 17)
  5. Feminist theories (p. 19)
  5.1 Asking the woman question (p. 19)
  5.2 Public/private dichotomy (p. 20)
  5.3 Absence of female voices (p. 21)
  6. Conclusion (p. 23)
  6.1 Historical development of the regulations of wartime rape (p. 23)
  6.2 Current regulation of wartime rape in international humanitarian law (p. 23)
  6.3 Asking the women question (p. 24)
  6.4 Public/private dichotomy (p. 25)
  6.5 Absence of female voices (p. 26)
  6.6 Concluding observations (p. 27)
  Bibliography (p. 28)
    International treaties and conventions (p. 28)
    Documents of international criminal tribunals and courts (p. 28)
    Literature (p. 29)
    Articles (p. 30)
    Electronic resources (p. 31)
  Table of Cases (p. 32)
    ICJ (p. 32)
    ICTY (p. 32)
    ICTR (p. 32)

Wikipedia: Law: International humanitarian law; Types of rape: Wartime sexual violence