Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

December Green (Committee Chair), Pramod Kantha (Committee Member), Donna Schalgheck (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Wartime sexual violence is often assumed to be inevitable during conflict yet empirical evidence indicates that sexual violence varies in type and frequency within and across conflicts as well as among armed groups. A solid understanding of what variable(s) and causal pathway(s) permit the variation of systematic sexual violence in intrastate conflict situations by specific groups has yet to be developed. What factors explain the variation of sexual violence by certain armed opposition groups during conflict situations? This comparative study employs process-tracing and the congruence method to consider the utility of hypotheses drawn from the work of Elisabeth J. Wood and Kathryn Farr using data from the Sri Lankan (1983-2009), Sierra Leonean (1991-2002), and Nepalese (1996-2005) civil wars. It finds that insurgent leadership prohibition of sexual violence against civilians and equitable intragroup gender dynamics are correlated with a lower frequency of sexual violence against civilian populations by insurgencies during civil wars. The author theorizes that when leadership prohibits sexual violence, enforces strong internal group discipline, and frames women's (equitable) participation as integral for achieving the broader ideological and strategic goals of the insurgency (i.e., nationalist, leftist, etc.), sexual violence against women and girls is less frequent during civil wars by armed opposition groups vis-à-vis government armed forces.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.