Since the Rwandan genocide and the wars of Yugoslav disintegration in the early 1990s, sexual violence in conflict zones has received considerable media attention. Thanks to international feminist organizing, international organizations have recognized it as a human-rights violation and a crime of war. Yet we know relatively little about sexual violence in earlier wars. In April 2006, the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights sponsored a conference titled “The History of Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones.” In her “conference report plus,” the coorganizer Elizabeth Heineman examines the functions of sexual violence in conflict zones, the uses of discourses about it, legal frameworks before and since the evolution of human rights discourses, the impact of civilian contexts on survivors' experiences of wartime sexual violence, and historians' means of capturing the voices of both victims and perpetrators. Finally, she notes some of the political and institutional challenges to pursuing historical research on sexual violence in conflict zones.

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