Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia

By Bradford, David G. | Military Review, September/October 1997 | Go to article overview

Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia


Bradford, David G., Military Review


RAPE WARFARE: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia by Beverly Allen. 180 pages. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 1996. $20.00.

Rape Warfare is a compelling book and should be read by all military officers who will serve or are serving overseas and for planners responsible for implementing Joint Publication (JP) 3-07.6, Joint Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Operations, and JP 3-08, Interagency Coordination During Joint Operations.

Beverly Allen's book is a testimony to and analysis of the horrifying phenomenon of what she calls "a military policy of rape for the purpose of genocide." According to Allen, all forms of genocidal rape constitute the crime of genocide as described in Article II, United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). While the US military would never advocate such a policy, we unfortunately have been or will become involved with nations that do. Allen writes that rape warfare is "currently practiced in BosniaHerzegovina (B-H) and Croatia by members of the Yugoslav army, Bosnian Serb forces, Serb militias in Croatia and B-H, irregular Serb forces known as Chetniks and Serb civilians."

Allen identifies three forms of genocidal rape. First, Chetniks or other Serb forces enter a B-H or Croatian village, publicly rape women of varying ages and then depart. News of this spreads throughout the village, and several days later regular Bosnian Serb or Serb soldiers from the Yugoslav army arrive and offer terrified residents safe passage away from the village on condition they never return. Most accept, abandoning the village to the Serbs and furthering "ethnic cleansing." Second, B-H and Croatian women in Serb concentration camps are randomly raped, often as part of torture preceding death. Third, Serb, Bosnian Serb and Croatian soldiers; Bosnian Serb militia members; and Chetniks arrest B-H and Croatian women, imprison them and rape them systematically for extended periods of time to make them pregnant or to torture them before killing them. Pregnant victims are raped until their pregnancies have progressed beyond the possibility of a safe abortion and then are released. …

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