Sexual violence as a weapon of war


Speaker:Victoire Girard, Nova School of Business and Economics
Date: Friday 27 November 2020
Time: 14.00
Location: Online via Zoom (link available from

Further details

This paper highlights that armed groups may use sexual violence as a strategy to extort economic resources. We combine new and fine grained data on local economic resources and sexual violence against civilians by armed groups in Africa from 1997 to 2018 at the $0.5x0.$ degree resolution. We show that an exogenous rise in the value of artisanal mining -- a labor intensive and easy to conceal resource -- increases the incidence of sexual violence. We demonstrate how standard rationals of violence as a taxation strategy explain this finding. Sexual violence is modeled as a form of non-lethal violence against civilians. When the local resource is labor intensive, the model shows that armed groups have incentives to avoid violence as they rely on civilians' labor to extract their income. However, non-lethal violence will dominate non-violence if (i) the price of the resource increases (predatory effect), and (ii) the resource can be concealed easily by civilians. When the resource is capital intensive, lethal violence dominates non-lethal violence. Our empirical findings further align with our model and show that an increase in the value of artisanal mining also increases other forms of non-lethal violence against civilians (even when we exclude sexual violence). In contrast, an increase in the value of industrial -- capital intensive -- mining impacts only the use of lethal violence. Agricultural activities -- labor intensive but harder to conceal -- have no systematic association with either form of violence against civilians.