Violent Soldiers: Sexual Violence Against Women in Lithuania in 1919–1940
Keywords:soldiers, sexual violence, sex crimes, rapes, violence against women, Interwar Lithuania
Abstract. The research examined criminal cases of the Army Court of the First Republic of Lithuania: routine cases of sexual offences committed by soldiers. When analysing sexual crimes committed by one exclusive interwar Lithuanian social group – soldiers in military service – the article seeks to find out what factors in the society of that time may have influenced not only the prevalence of sexual crimes, but also of violence against women in general. Sex crimes in the First Republic of Lithuania were divided into two groups: sanguliavimas (illicit sexual intercourse) – sexual satisfaction through sexual intercourse – and gašlavimas (lewd acts), defined as sexual satisfaction without intercourse. The most common sex offences committed by soldiers were sanguliavimas, commonly referred to as rape. The article concludes that the factors of both sexual and other forms of violence against women might have been the aggression of the military actions of the First World War and Lithuanian Wars of Independence; public discourse of sociobiological causes – male sexual instinct, sexual pathologies, and excessive alcohol consumption; patriarchal stereotypes that supported the subordinated role of women in the conservative interwar Lithuanian society; and the dominant role of men, strengthened by the wide power given to the army due to the state of war.
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