The use of sample survey interviews as evidence of mass rape

John Hagan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The underlying crime of mass rape can be prosecuted using scientific evidence collected by social scientists from witnesses who report their knowledge of the mass rapes in question. Mass rape is distinguished from individual rape by the role of multiple perpetrators and the sexual victimization of many individuals. The same individual may be victimized by multiple perpetrators, multiple perpetrators may victimize the same or different individuals, and the individuals may not be able to identify any or all of the perpetrators who victimize them. The essence of mass rape is its scale and patterning. Anonymous and confidential survey interview evidence based on probabilistic sampling and the aggregation of reports can be used to establish both the scale and the pattern of mass rape. This evidence can establish the planning, the modus, and the effects of mass rape without requiring individuals to reveal their identities or to testify about their own victimization. Indeed, essential evidence of mass rape may be less likely to result from the personal testimony provided with the identification and courtroom appearances of particular rape victims than from the scientific assessment of systematically collected and aggregated accounts of witnesses of rapes reported by and about many unidentified individuals who may or may not themselves have been raped. Thus social scientific collection of evidence of mass rape based on probabilistic sampling of effected areas or communities achieves its evidentiary value from the aggregation of anonymous and confidential witness reports. Individuals who observe or are themselves victims of mass rape can through survey interviews bear anonymous and confidential witness to their own rapes and/or the rapes of others. The essential point is that the evidence of the scale and patterns involved in the planning and modus of mass rape derives from the aggregation of witness evidence rather than from the individuality of personal victim testimony. The predictable legal objection to sample survey evidence of the reported rapes of others is its hearsay aspect. However, international criminal law allows hearsay evidence and has provided special procedural accommodations to insure anonymity and confidentiality for witnesses testifying about sexual violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationContemporary Issues Facing the International Criminal Court
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9789004304451
ISBN (Print)9789004304444
StatePublished - Apr 6 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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