Gaëtan Fournier: gaetan.fournier[at]univ-amu.fr
Evgeny Tsodikovich: evgeny.tsodikovich[at]univ-amu.fr
This paper highlights that armed groups may use sexual violence as a strategy to extort economic resources on civilians. We combine new and fine grained data on local economic resources and sexual violence against civilians by armed groups in Africa from 1997 to 2018 at the 0:5 x 0:5 degree resolution. We show that an exogenous rise in the value of artisanal mining increases the incidence of sexual violence. We demonstrate how standard rationales of violence as a taxation strategy explain this finding. Theoretically, if the resource is labor intensive, the armed group need civilians’ labor to produce the resource. Sexual violence, a form of non-lethal violence which allows to enforce high taxation while preserving the local labor, will become more likely if (i) the price of the resource increases (rapacity effect), and (ii) the resource can be concealed easily (is difficult to tax). Our empirical findings align with our model: a one standard deviation increase in the value of gold mined in artisanal mining areas – a labor intensive and easy to conceal resource – increases sexual violence by two-third of the sample mean. In contrast, local resources which are either more capital intensive than artisanal mining, or which production is harder to conceal than gold, have no relation to sexual violence. Moreover, we show that the relation between artisanal mining value and sexual violence is mostly driven by the presence of armed actors who are the most likely to rely on illegal local taxation (rebel groups).
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