The Political Consequences of Wartime Sexual Violence: Evidence from a List Experiment
60 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 30, 2020
We present the first systematic study into the political effects of wartime sexual violence. Connecting unobtrusive measures from a list experiment to individual survivors’ political action, we show that personal experience of sexual violence increases political participation. This effect is substantial in size, holds for institutionalized and non-institutionalized forms of political action, and is robust to unobserved confounding or sample selection bias. To understand why sexual victimization leads to political activism, we derive mechanisms from work on the legacies of violent conflict. Causal mediation analyses suggest that social preferences or ‘post-traumatic growth’ are insufficient explanations for the mobilizing effect of wartime sexual violence. Instead, survivors of sexual violence are mobilized through their involvement in civic networks. Stressing the agency of survivors, we contribute to the understanding of wartime sexual violence, the role of civil society in post-conflict politics and humanitarian policy.
Keywords: wartime sexual violence, political participation, post-conflict politics, list experiment
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