Rape: Weapon of War and Genocide

Edited by Carol Rittner and John K. Roth
Edited by Carol Rittner and John K. Roth. Paragon House (NBN, dist.), $21.95 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-1-55778-898-6
Reviewed on: 05/21/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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Genocide studies experts Rittner and Roth (co-editors of Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust) have assembled a tool kit for activists and an informative alarm for general readers with this collection of original essays by distinguished genocide scholars. An effective and affecting immediacy is achieved as each writer uses a particular document (interview, personal letter, trial transcript, formal report) as a point of departure, and many chapters include thought-provoking discussion questions and pertinent suggested readings. From various professional perspectives, the writers reveal that “rape-as-policy—intentional and systematic uses of rape as a weapon of war and genocide—has loomed larger and larger.” Essays convey the horrors experienced by Jewish victims of Nazi genocide, victims of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian War, Guatemalan victims of femicide, and Tutsi victims of all three. Others analyze rape as a tool of “othering” (“the obliteration of a common ground between perpetrators and victims”), assess films treating war and genocide, and consider the development of laws that have the power to protect and to punish. “Rape,” as one writer observes, in this grim book, “is a sadly effective weapon of war.” That this is a painful book to read should not prevent it from being read. (Sept.)
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