Correlates of Sexual Violence in Protest Spaces: Evidence from the Egyptian Revolution

Master thesis

Gilbert, Sofie Marianne (2021) Correlates of Sexual Violence in Protest Spaces: Evidence from the Egyptian Revolution. MA thesis, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Oslo.

Read the MA thesis here

Why perpetrate sexual violence in public spaces of protest? Regimes, security forces, and civilians perpetrate sexualized violence during conflictual periods of protest, unrest, and revolution; yet the relationship between protest episodes and sexual violence still lacks both empirical documentation and a gendered perspective. In order to understand why sexual violence occurs in some protests while not in others, I match event data—drawn from Arabic-language newspapers—with an original dataset of assaults derived from survivor and witness testimonies; crowd-sourced data on sexual touching, single perpetrator rape and multiple perpetrator rape (MPR); civil-society organization reports; and news articles. I find evidence of both social and spatial consistencies in the perpetration of sexual violence in Tahrir Square; alluding to a potential behavioural pattern and/or strategy of violence. In my statistical analysis, while controlling for endogenous and exogenous elements of protests, I find that sexual violence was more likely to occur at non-transient, static, and large protests opposed to moderately attended and/or transient and dynamic protests. These results point to both the macro- and micro-foundations of sexual violence during episodes of protest. The thesis informs scholarship on topics related to contentious spaces, gendered experiences of—and motives for—repression, and sexual violence in conflicts other than war.

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