By Nikita Malik
Rape was first recognised as a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993. It continues to be employed as a weapon of war. Yet while international legal mechanisms allow for its prosecution – however difficult the process – the motivations and pull factors for engaging in sexually violent acts during times of conflict remain underexplored.
The use of sexual violence by terrorist organisations has become widespread, systematic and strategic. As the findings from research published by The Henry Jackson Society indicate, groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram and, increasingly, the Taliban and Ansar Dine, target victims for sexual violence along ethnic, religious, and political lines. At the same time, a rise in abductions indicates an increasing overlap between the use of sexual violence by terrorist groups, and trafficking for profit. Kidnapping accounted $10-30 million in revenues for Islamic State in 2016 alone.
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