A crime of identity: rape and its neglected victims

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22 Citations (Scopus)


While rape is often theorized as an act and expression of the rapist's power over the victim, this article seeks to offer a new, victim-centered conceptualization of rape. Focused specifically on war rape, it submits that rape constitutes a crime of identity that attacks the victim's very sense of self. To develop this argument, the article centers on two particular, neglected categories of victims-namely male victims of rape and children who are born as a result of rape. Examining these two categories of victims together is not only original but also enlightening, permitting deeper insights into who is affected by the crime of rape (directly and indirectly) and illuminating the significant identity dynamics that underpin this heinous crime. In short, while male rape often robs the victim of everything that he believes to be the essence of his male identity, thus emasculating him, the child born of rape frequently acquires a superimposed identity-inextricably linked to that of the rapist-that impedes the development of his/her own personal identity. Rape, in other words, is not only a sexual and physical violation but it is also a fundamental violation of the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-169
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2014


  • Women
  • Gender
  • Conflict-related sexual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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