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

By Bradford, D. G. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 1998 | Go to article overview

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


Bradford, D. G., Air & Space Power Journal


Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia by Beverly Allen. University of Minnesota Press, 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 209, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401-2520, 1996, 180 pages, S20.00.

Rape Warfare is a compelling book and a necessary read for all military officers who will serve or are serving abroad and for planners responsible for implementing Joint Publication 3-07.6, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Foreign Humanitarian Assistance Operations, and Joint Publication 3-08, Interagency Coordination during Joint Operations. All forms of genocidal rape constitute the crime of genocide as described in Article 2, United Nations (UN) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). Allen's book is a testimony and an analysis of the horrifying phenomenon of "a military policy of rape for the purpose of genocide." Although the United States military would never engage in such a policy, unfortunately it has become or will become involved with nations that do. The incident in Okinawa, for example, in which three members of the armed forces of the United States raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl embroiled our government in a foreign legal system, closed bases, destroyed decades of goodwill and credibility, and gravely offended one of our important Asian allies. Allen takes the United States to task over its inadequate understanding of rape and lambastes BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia over their use of rape to further military policy.

As defined by Allen, rape warfare is "a military policy for the purpose of genocide currently practiced in Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H) and Croatia by members of the Yugoslav Army, the Bosnian Serb forces, Serb militias in Croatia and B-H, the irregular Serb forces known as Chetniks, and Serb civilians." Allen identifies three main forms of this "genocidal rape." First, Chetniks or other Serb forces enter a Bosnian-Herzegovinian or Croatian village, take several women of varying ages from their homes, rape them in public view, and depart. The news of this atrocious event spreads rapidly throughout the village. Several days later, regular Bosnian Serb soldiers or Serb soldiers from the Yugoslav army arrive and offer the now-terrified residents safe passage away from the village on the condition they never return. Most accept, leaving the village abandoned to the Serbs and thus furthering the genocidal plan of "ethnic cleansing." Second, Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Croatian women being held in Serb concentration camps are chosen at random to be raped, often as part of torture preceding death. Third, Serb, Bosnian Serb, and Croatian Serb soldiers; Bosnian Serb militias; and Chetniks arrest Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Croatian women, imprison them in a rape/death camp, and rape them systematically for extended periods of time. Such rapes are either part of torture preceding death or part of torture leading to forced pregnancy. Pregnant victims are raped consistently until their pregnancies have progressed beyond the possibility of a safe abortion and are then released. In the first case, the death of the victim contributes to the genocidal goal; in the second, the birth of a child has the same effect because the perpetrator or the policy according to which he is acting considers the child a Serb, having none of the mother's identity.

Allen does not offer political-military remedies to the horror of genocidal rape. …

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