This paper reflects on the significance of the legal treatment of sexual violence in contexts of armed conflict. What are the physical and emotional effects of the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war? In what way are women objectified and how are the implications of this projected into the social reference group? In order to answer these questions, first, a review is made of the international standards of legal protection against sexual violence. Then two case studies are analysed: Sepur Zarco in Guatemala and Manta and Vilca in Peru. In these cases,for the first time, national legal systems, based on international humanitarian law, have established a legal basis to punish sexual violence crimes within armed conflict contexts as crimes against humanity.
Key words: sexual violence, crimes against humanity, international humanitarian law, Peru, Guatemala
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