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Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings Under International Law

49 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2009 Last revised: 19 Sep 2009

Dustin A. Lewis

Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC)

Abstract

This article casts light on the international law aspects of a largely unrecognized occurrence in armed conflict: sexual violence against men. The article discusses causes and consequences of such violence, and assesses pertinent aspects of international law. The article argues that, to reduce and prevent sexual violence against men in conflict settings, international law should be interpreted, applied, and enforced in ways that delegitimize the prejudicial and discriminatory conceptions of gender, sex, and (homo)sexuality that often fuel such violence in the first place. Toward this aim, the article highlights why it is necessary to use a definition of sexual violence that encompasses, among other things, violence targeting an individual's imputed, perceived, or actual sexuality. In addition, the article provides a prosecution roadmap, sketching the conventional and jurisprudential standards for sexual violence to be prosecuted as a constituent element of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The article concludes by suggesting two additional ways to enhance protection: treaty drafters should explicitly recognize men as a class of victims, and a postulated jus cogens norm should be expanded to include all forms of sexual violence against men, women, and children.

Keywords: sexual violence, rape, war, armed conflict, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, IHL, law of armed conflict, International Criminal Court, ICTY, ICTR, sexuality, gender, homosexuality, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity

JEL Classification: K14, K33, K4

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Dustin A., Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings Under International Law. Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1-49, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1404574

Dustin A. Lewis (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) ( email )

Langdell 175-J
1545 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pilac.law.harvard.edu/dustin-a-lewis

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