Breaking Taboo: Stopping Sexual Violence in War

Submitted by Carolyn Arnold on August 23, 2011

Watch the archived video of Dr. Leatherman’s lecture.


Sexual violence during armed conflict has historically been a taboo subject. Recently however, more people and groups are shedding light on the phenomenon and looking for ways to stop it.

Dr. Janie Leatherman, professor of politics and director of international studies, recently wrote Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict (2011, Polity Press, Cambridge), which offers a comprehensive analysis on the causes and consequences of sexual violence during armed conflict.

The timeliness and importance of the topic led to the development of an event at the Quick Center for the Arts where Dr. Leatherman will discuss the motivations of those who perpetrate violence and analyze the situations where violence might arise. Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, associate professor of politics, will join Dr. Leatherman to help frame the discussion. The free event, titled “Breaking Taboo: Stopping Sexual Violence in War” is on September 27 at 7 p.m. in the Kelley Theatre of the Quick Center for the Arts.

“During the last couple decades, the long standing taboo against speaking out against sexual violence in armed conflict has been broken,” says Dr. Leatherman. “Yet, sexual violence in wars of plunder and profit remains a pervasive reality around the globe today.”

Dr. Leatherman continues,  “Asking why sexual violence happens in armed conflicts is like answering a bottomless question. It represents human degradation at an incomprehensible extreme.” During the lecture Dr. Leatherman will also discuss prevention approaches. “There are many strategies for creating safe space during and after war. International humanitarian interventions and the work of local NGOs need to be supported to work towards these goals. Opening up safe spaces is a key factor in the long-term viability of peace building.”

Gary Wood, director of the Regina A. Quick Center, said of the event, “The Quick Center for the Arts has both the responsibility and desire to be a partner in sharing the good works of our faculty to both on and off campus constituents. Upon hearing of interest in an event featuring Dr. Leatherman, asking to be a key partner was a perfect opportunity for us to fulfill these objectives.”

Wood hopes that this event will be the first of many collaborations. “We want to ensure that the Quick Center does everything within its capacity to provide excellent service to the faculty in hosting and working as a partner in promoting it to potential audiences. Our job is to “set the scene” and provide essential skills and expertise so that presentations like these are truly enlivening and fulfill their missions.

For more information, visit The Quick Center. Please R.S.V.P for reservations (free seat): (203) 254-4010

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