Cultural Distance and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
This paper examines the relationship between ethnic-based gender norms and conflict-related sexual violence. We generate a novel dyadic dataset that contains information on the ethnic identity of all the actors involved in ethnic civil conflicts in Africa between 1989 and 2009 and their use of sexual violence. We exploit ethnographic information to construct a new gender inequality index at the ethnicity level that captures deep-rooted gender norms. First, we find that gender-unequal armed actors are more likely to be perpetrators of sexual violence. Second, we consider the cultural distance in gender norms between the combatants. Applying a gravity approach, we find that sexual violence is driven by a specific clash of conceptions on the appropriate role of men and women in society: sexual violence increases when the perpetrator is more gender-unequal than the victim. These patterns are specific to sexual violence and do not explain general violence within a conflict. Differences in other cultural dimensions unrelated to gender are not associated with conflict-related sexual violence.
Joint with Eleonora Guarnieri.