‘A Fate Worse Than Dying’: Sexual Violence during the Armenian Genocide

  • Matthias Bjørnlund
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


The above quote, taken from a letter written 6 August 1915 by F. H. Leslie, US missionary in the Ottoman city of Urfa, to US Consul Jesse B. Jackson in Aleppo, encapsulates much of what was the Armenian genocide – the killing of 1–1.5 million Ottoman Armenians during World War I – including the fundamental gendered aspect of this event. But when it comes to massive extermination campaigns like the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the Rwandan genocide, gendered aspects have usually been downplayed in scholarly works. This is perhaps understandable considering the all-encompassing nature of what has rightly been called the total genocides of the past century.2 The Armenian genocide was the almost completely successful attempt by the Young Turk dictatorship (also known as the Committee of Union and Progress, CUP) at ‘cleansing’ from Anatolian soil not only the approximately 2 million Ottoman Armenians, but also other mainly Christian nationalities like the Ottoman Greeks and Assyrians, and it was usually secured through a number of methods of direct and indirect killings: massacres, drownings, death marches under the guise of relocations, imposed starvation and diseases, etc.3


Sexual Abuse Sexual Violence Forced Marriage Mass Killing Rwandan Genocide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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