Published in Critical Criminology: An International Journal, Vol. 17 No. 1 (2009) at doi: 10.1007/s10612-008-9067-3


Only recently have critical criminologists begun a systematic exploration of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity as state crimes (Kramer and Michalowski 2005; Mullins and Rothe 2008; Haveman and Smeulers 2008). This paper contributes to that growing literature through examining the nature and dynamics of sexual violence as it occurred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It draws upon empirical examination of events depicted in transcripts of trials held before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. It qualitatively examines the role of leaders in producing mass sexual assaults. It explores how sexual mutilations were more intense expressions of what the genocide’s local leaders hoped to accomplish through the use of rape in the event. It also explores long-term results of victimization for survivors. Finally, this paper then uses an integrated theory of state crime (see Mullins and Rothe 2008; Rothe and Mullins 2006, 2008a) to illuminate the causal forces at play on multiple levels of analysis in producing the sexual violence specifically within the broader genocide.