Although rape is most often a coercive interaction between two individuals, it has also been a strategy or policy of war throughout history (Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008). Records abound of the mass rape of women during war, from the time of ancient Greece to the more recent atrocities in Rwanda, Darfur, and the former Yugoslavia. In the 20th cen­tury hundreds of thousands of women have been victimized by wartime rape (Bergoffen, 2006; Polgreen, 2005; Van Zeijl, 2006). In the 1990s reports of mass rapes perpetrated by Serbian soldiers on thousands of Bosnian and Croatian women and girls increased the public’s support for measures to label rape a war crime. Awareness was further heightened by reports that thousands of women and girls were raped during the 1994 war in Rwanda (Flanders, 1998; Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008). Rape has been employed as a weapon in the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan (Polgreen, 2005). More recently reports have surfaced describing how hundreds of women have been raped by militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi during the war in Libya (Fahim, 2011; Faul, 2011).

Accounts of the rape and sexual abuse of Jewish women during the Holocaust, a topic largely ignored for over 60 years, were presented in the book Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust, coedited by Rochelle Saidel and Sonja Hedge­peth (2010). Thousands of Jewish women were raped, sexually abused, or subjected to threats of this abuse during the reign of the Third Reich. Many of the women abused in this deplorable fashion were subsequently killed by Nazi thugs (Cooper, 2011).

U. S. soldiers have also been guilty of wartime rape. Cases of gang rape of Vietnamese women appear in the records of courts-martial for American troops in Vietnam (Brown – miller, 1993). American soldiers have also been prosecuted for raping Iraqi women dur­ing the invasion of Iraq. In 1996 the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal

for the Former Yugoslavia ruled that wartime rape is a crime punishable by severe crimi­nal sanctions (marking the first time that sexual assault was treated separately as a war crime). In 2001 this U. N. tribunal established "sexual enslavement" as a war crime and convicted several Bosnian Serbs for the multiple rapes of Muslim women enslaved in so-called rape camps. Convicted rapists received sentences ranging from 12 to 28 years (Comiteau, 2001). In recent years the Democratic Republic of Congo has become what United Nations officials label as the epicenter of rape as a weapon of war (Peterman et al., 2011). It is estimated that almost 2 million women have been raped in the Congo.

Why is rape so common during war? Wartime rape, in addition to being used as a means to dominate, humiliate, and control women, "can also be intended to disable an enemy by destroying the bonds of family and society" (Swiss & Giller, 1993, pp. 612-613). In wars instigated by ethnic conflict, as in the former Yugosla­via, Rwanda, and Darfur, mass rape is used as a military strategy to terrorize and demoralize a whole population, to destroy its cultural integrity, and sometimes to force entire communities to flee their houses, thereby achieving the goal of "ethnic cleansing" (Boustany, 2007; Eaton, 2004; Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008). Thus rape is an act of war that assaults not only the individual woman but also her family and her community.

The Sexuality and Diversity discussion on punishing women who have been raped provides insights into how societal reaction to rape, whether during wartime or other­wise, can add to the suffering of rape victims.