The primary objective of the project is, through evidence-based research, to improve our understanding of dynamics of the use of sexual violence in conflict settings, and to contribute to develop improved methodologies for documenting and analyzing sexual violence and to identify the most effective strategies to reduce or eliminate the use of conflict-related sexual violence.
- Addressing data and reporting biases through
advanced source triangulation and development of automated coding
- Developing a strong international and national research
network on conflict-related sexual violence;
- Engaging local, regional and
international policy actors and advocacy groups in discussing approaches,
research results and policy responses to conflict-related sexual violence
- Contributing to promote female staff at senior levels by
supporting the career and building professorship competence of a female
The purpose of this project is to address why sexual violence occurs during
conflict and what might be done to reduce or eliminate it. We will focus on
tackling the main challenges facing the literature on conflict-related sexual
The most basic challenge is methodological - how to establish
reliable systematic evidence and to overcome problems of potential data
biases on sexual violence in contentious settings. Reporting biases can
occur i.a. due to sexual violence being fraught with taboos, the conflict
contexts in the violence occurs, and the phenomenon being potentially
overlooked and discounted. We will therefore map (RQ1) which data
generation biases exist, how do they potentially skew our results, and how
can they be overcome?
The second challenge is substantive - the lack
of understanding of the relationships between different forms of sexual
violence and other parts of the repertoire of behaviors in contentious settings.
Sexual violence is generally studied in isolation or as an aggregate category,
although there can be important dynamics between different contentious
repertoires and the different forms of sexual violence (e.g. rape, sexual
slavery, sexual torture) might have both different causes and consequences.
We therefore ask: (RQ2) what is the strategic relevance and function of
different forms of sexual violence in contentious politics? Based on this
and the organizational, ideational, and other characteristics of perpetrator
groups, we are able to ask the critical question of: (RQ3) which interventions
and/or policies will significantly reduce or eliminate the use of sexual violence
The answers to these three related questions will be sought
through intensive data triangulation, cross-case comparative analyses using
advanced statistical techniques, as well as in-depth micro-level studies. It
will be critical to advancing the understanding and possible prevention of this
heinous war crime.