All the regard due to their sex”: Women in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 Harvard Law School


This working paper focuses on the gendered concepts of women that emerge from the texts of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, especially the concept of “honor and modesty.” Through analysis of historical materials, the paper describes the background to Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which refers to the protection of women from rape and enforced prostitution. In particular, the paper examines the question of why the Conventions’ drafters did not include rape in the list of acts that constitute grave breaches of the Conventions, worthy of special condemnation.

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