Two quotes, far apart in time and space, but pretty much the same

The heads of fallen chiefs were carefully preserved from decay by an ingenious process, and deposited with their ancestors’ bones, to be brought forth on future occasions to excite men to revenge their deaths. The bloody heads of the enemy were stuck round the fences of the village, for the purpose of being insulted. “What!” said a chief to one of these trunkless heads, “you wanted to run away, did you? But my war club over-took you, and after you were cooked you were made food for my mouth. And where is your father? he is cooked! And where is your brother? He is eaten! And where is your wife? There she sits, a wife for me! And where are your children? Here they are with loads on their backs carrying food as slaves.”

– story about Maori chief Hongi Hika


“The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions. To see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms”

– Genghis Khan

They forgot to mention raping the defeated men, though:

It’s not just in East Africa that these stories remain unheard. One of the few academics to have looked into the issue in any detail is Lara Stemple, of the University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law Project. Her study Male Rape and Human Rights notes incidents of male sexual violence as a weapon of wartime or political aggression in countries such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. Twenty-one per cent of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torture treatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture. A study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80% of men reported having been raped.

Because there has been so little research into the rape of men during war, it’s not possible to say with any certainty why it happens or even how common it is – although a rare 2010 survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 22% of men and 30% of women in Eastern Congo reported conflict-related sexual violence. As for Atim, she says: “Our staff are overwhelmed by the cases we’ve got, but in terms of actual numbers? This is the tip of the iceberg.

Often, she says, wives who discover their husbands have been raped decide to leave them. “They ask me: ‘So now how am I going to live with him? As what? Is this still a husband? Is it a wife?’ They ask, ‘If he can be raped, who is protecting me?’ There’s one family I have been working closely with in which the husband has been raped twice. When his wife discovered this, she went home, packed her belongings, picked up their child and left. Of course that brought down this man’s heart.

3 thoughts on “War

  1. Pingback: Rape and a Woman’s Value « Johann Happolati

  2. Men raping women vs. men raping men are two completely different issues. I hate to sound like a feminist but it’s an issue of sexual desire vs. power.

    When a man rapes a woman he does so because of power and dominance. That’s why you saw Muslim men raping that female journalist in Egypt. She wasn’t dressed like a chaste Muslim woman and needed to be subjugated. It was a brutal experience for her. It was not about pleasure.

    When a man “rapes” (more like has sex with) another man it’s homosexual sexual desire, kind of like prison rape (no women there so who to have sex with?). This type of ‘brutality’ is more like gays doing BDSM than a dictator putting women under control.

    Men raping women = Power & Dominance
    Men raping men = Homoeroticism

    • Have you read the article linked to? It’s pretty clear that male war rapes are about humiliation and subjugation and that the victims weren’t in any way enjoying the experience. As for prison rapes, I don’t know what the context is for most of those – but presumably if they were simply homoerotic encounters they wouldn’t be classified as rape.

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