Translating Violence

Exploring the Relationship between Regional Masculinity, the Combatant Male and the Perpetration of Sexual Crimes during times of Conflict


  • Christian Perez Arts- Criminology



This paper examines the relationship between regional concepts of manhood and the experience of wartime sexual violence for the sub-group that is highly at risk of its victimization and its perpetration, the combatant-male. The violence witnessed by sub-Saharan Africa in the wake of its independence movements and the instability caused by rival factions not only displayed incidents of sexual violence but also highlighted the social value tied to “manhood” by these regions and their populations such that the concept of masculinity was weaponized at that time. Additionally, this paper explores the more intimate sphere of the combatant’s unit and group dynamics to discuss the formation of “hyper-masculinities” that drive its members to increased aggression and the employment of harmful actions, such as sexual crimes, as a mark of manliness. As such, this paper argues that the idea of the “hegemonic male” and the social value tied to such men present a twin-edge opportunity where committing sexual crimes serves to increase the prestige of the perpetrator, while at the same time, inflicting harm upon its victim with consequences beyond the initial incident of violence. Insights and data were drawn from existing literature on masculinities and the experience of militarized persons, with the intent of adding to existing knowledge on masculinity.