Confronting Wartime Sexual Violence: Public Support for Survivors in Bosnia

Authored by: Douglas Page and Samuel Whitt

Categories: Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: USA
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2020
Citation: Page, Douglas, and Samuel Whitt. “Confronting Wartime Sexual Violence: Public Support for Survivors in Bosnia.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 64, no. 4 (April 2020): 674–702. doi:10.1177/0022002719867473.

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Existing research on conflict-related sexual violence focuses on the motivations of perpetrators and effects on survivors. What remains less clear is how postconflict societies respond to the hardships survivors face. In survey experiments in Bosnia, we examine public support for financial aid, legal aid, and public recognition for survivors. First, we find a persistent ethnocentric view of sexual violence, where respondents are less supportive when the perpetrator is identified as co-ethnic and survivors are perceived as out-groups. Second, respondents are less supportive of male survivors than female survivors, which we attribute to social stigmas surrounding same-gender sexual activity. Consistent with our argument, those who are intolerant of homosexuality are especially averse to providing aid to male survivors. This study points to the long-term challenges survivors face due to ethnic divisions and social stigmatization from sexual violence