Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Sexual violence as a weapon of war in Ukraine

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 10 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1172

Rapid Response:

Re: Sexual violence as a weapon of war in Ukraine

Dear Editor,

Rape in war has a long history, at least as far back as Moses and Joshua (Numbers 31).

"31:15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
31:16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

It seems as if Russian soldiers are now given three ancient commandments; stay alive, kill the enemy and rape his women.

An historical exception was the first Crusade – Pope Urban II insisted that the Crusaders remain chaste. It is said that they would rather run a lance or sword through a Muslim woman than have sex with her. Chastity was not required in the later Crusades.

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 May 2022
Peter Arnold
Retired GP
Edgecliff, NSW