Published as Chapter 9 in The Plight And Fate Of Women During and Following Genocide, Samuel Totten, ed.
The Bosnian War, which is remembered for its “manipulation and abuse of the female gender to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide” (Askin, 1997, p. 256), shocked the conscious of the international community. The universal euphoria and heady optimism that had overcome the world like a wave after the fall of the Soviet Empire evaporated. Reports of “ethnic cleansing” seemed unfathomable: How could another genocide occur in Europe almost ﬁ fty years after the continent had proclaimed “never again” after the Holocaust? But perhaps most terrifying was the fact the Serbians seemed to have invented a brand new tool of persecution – genocidal rape. This chapter details how sexual violence was used in Bosnia, and a year later in Rwanda, as a tool of genocide, and how the horror of those genocides transformed gender crimes from “the least condemned war crime[s]” to an emerging area of international criminal law.