By Dagmar Herzog (eds.)
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Extra info for Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century
29 This typical and seemingly pointless procedure can be explained not only with the need to carry out the destruction of the remaining Armenians near remote rivers and gorges suited for the killing and disposal of bodies,30 at a safe distance from (Western) eyewitnesses, and from the general Muslim population due to fear of diseases,31 but also with keeping deportees away from sources of food and water and minimizing the possibility of escape. It can also Matthias Bjørnlund 21 be explained with hatred toward Armenians as a group, as revenge for perceived transgressions, and, perhaps, with an attempt to overcome possible resistance from gendarmes or soldiers toward outright massacre of women and children.
This is one of the ways in which the forced assimilations correspond with the more direct sexual violence of the death marches: in the minds of the perpetrators, neither assimilation nor rape was a matter of encounters between persons, but rather of encounters between the person of the perpetrator and the body of the victim. 150 The Young Turk leaders themselves were often secularists, even atheists, but they believed that successful Turkiﬁcation could only be built on Islamization. 151 Supposedly, this often-painful and humiliating ritual marked a ‘point of no return’ in the conversion from being a Christian Armenian to becoming a Muslim Turk.
The constantly repeated rituals of violence would have helped to create bonds between the CUP and the general population that they were trying to mobilize. This would be reminiscent of how the distribution of Armenian wealth and people was used to secure loyalty. 103 Sexual violence seems rather to have been a completely accepted, often encouraged, ‘by-product’ of the overall genocidal program. Regardless of whether the Ottoman government or the CUP directly authorized the sexual abuse as a separate policy or not, it was an integral part of the widespread and systematic attacks against a civilian population with the aim of destroying this population, thus making the sexual abuse genocidal as such.