Added: April 8, 2017 – Last updated: April 8, 2017


Author: Sarah Faith Thompson

Title: Sexual Violence in Civil Wars

Subtitle: Strength, Organizational Control, and Rebel Groups

Thesis: B.A. Thesis, Columbia University

Advisor: Christopher J. Blattman

Year: April 2016

Pages: vi + 103pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | African History: Liberian History; Asian History: Indian History | Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / First Liberian Civil War, Insurgency in Northeast India


Links: (Free Access)

Academic Commons: Digital Repository of the Columbia University (Free Access)



Abstract: »Why do some rebel groups engage in acts of sexual violence while others do not, and what accounts for variation over time? The existing literature suggests that sexual violence should be less common among strong and cohesive groups and more prevalent in weak, disorganized groups. Because preliminary research in this field focused on systemic-level factors, only recently have some scholars begun to include rough measures of organizational dynamics in quantitative studies, and no one has yet linked multiple measures of rebel strength to a comprehensive dataset on wartime sexual violence. This thesis does so for the first time, and finds a pattern inconsistent with previous claims, showing a positive association between rebel strength and sexual violence across multiple measures in cross-rebel analyses. Case studies on the All Tripura Tiger Force and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia provide insight into how this relationship operates, and which organizational characteristics especially predispose a group to use or refrain from sexual violence. The finding that stronger rebel groups have a higher propensity toward sexual violence, controlling for numerous variables such as pre-war conditions and intensity of ghting, holds important policy implications for international organizations. Human rights groups may seek to preemptively intervene in conflicts and locations that pose a distinctive risk to the civilian population, especially where hierarchical and well-armed rebels control territory in areas outside of their support base.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. i)
  Acknowledgements (p. ii)
  List of Figures (p. v)
  List of Tables (p. vi)
  1 Introduction (p. 1)
    1.1 Scope (p. 3)
    1.2 Literature over Time (p. 9)
    1.3 Roadmap and Relevance (p. 10)
  2 Theory (p. 12)
  3 Empirical Strategy (p. 15)
    3.1 Motivations (p. 15)
    3.2 Explanatory Variables (p. 16)
    3.3 Control Variables (p. 18)
    3.4 Scope (p. 19)
    3.5 Data (p. 21)
    3.6 Analysis Strategy (p. 25)
  4 Results (p. 26)
    4.1 Primary Results (p. 26)
    4.2 Secondary Results (p. 32)
  5 Mechanism Analysis Strategy (p. 37)
    5.1 Hierarchy: Masculine or Egalitarian? (p. 37)
    5.2 Accountability to Constituency and Leadership (p. 39)
    5.3 Reporting Bias or Mechanical Relationships (p. 41)
    5.4 Case Motivations and Selection (p. 41)
  6 Case I: The All Tripura Tiger Force (p. 45)
    6.1 Background (p. 45)
    6.2 Hierarchy (p. 49)
    6.3 Weapon of War (p. 55)
    6.4 Accountability (p. 57)
    6.5 Reporting Bias (p. 59)
    6.6 Analysis (p. 60)
  7 Case II: The National Patriotic Front of Liberia (p. 61)
    7.1 Background (p. 62)
    7.2 Hierarchy (p. 63)
    7.3 Weapon of War (p. 69)
    7.4 Accountability (p. 71)
    7.5 Reporting Bias (p. 74)
    7.6 Analysis (p. 76)
  8 Discussion and Conclusion (p. 79)
    8.1 Discussion of Case Studies (p. 79)
    8.2 Conclusion (p. 83)
  A Appendix (p. 86)
    A.1 Robustness Checks (p. 86)
    A.2 Constitution of ATTF (India) (p. 89)
    A.3 Data Modifications (p. 92)
    A.4 Sexual Violence of Rebel Groups, 1989–2009 (p. 94)
  References (p. 98)

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Liberia | History of Asia: History of India / History of the Republic of India | Rape in India: Human rights issues in Northeast India | Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence | War: Civil war | War: First Liberian Civil War / National Patriotic Front of Liberia | War: Insurgency in Northeast India / All Tripura Tiger Force