Sexual violence accompanies warfare and armed conflict at almost every point in history. Yet it appears in historically and culturally specific ways.

Sexual violence is a form of violence that is highly subjective (experienced as something distinctly different by perpetrator and victim) and at the same time social – informed by gendered ideas of body and mind, cultural norms of sexuality and aggression as well as the forms of military organization and national politics within a particular period of history.

Much work on sexual violence in armed conflict has been published during the past years, yet we still know remarkably little about it:

  • How can we grasp the complexity of the phenomenon?
  • To which extent is sexual violence in armed conflict informed by gendered scripts at work in pre-war-societies?
  • How is this form of violence tied to other forms of wartime violence?
  • Which meanings can sexual violence acquire in the field of military strategy and tactics?
  • How do different actors—perpetrators, victims, bystanders, confidants—talk or remain (eloquently) silent about sexual violence?
  • How can we uncover different constellations and understand the dynamics that develop between perpetrators and victims? Does the capacity for action, the capacity to affect and/or to be affected, vary in specific constellations?
  • How do post-war societies deal with sexual violence, the victims and the perpetrators?

The International Research Group »Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict« (SVAC), founded in October 2010, addresses these and other questions. In a series of meetings and workshops interdisciplinary scholars and NGO-experts compare case studies from different theaters of war and conflict, including multifaceted theoretical approaches. The group thus promotes the systematic development of research questions and methods.