Rape in laymen terms is the sexual violence against people. It is an act that is devoid of consent in any form and includes the imposition of the perpetrator over the victim.

Rape is often explained in psychopathological terms as an act committed by people who are ‘sick’. However, sociologist Diana Scully says that it is actually the culmination of cultural factors that drives people to rape, predominantly the need to assert power and authority.

Rape impacts the victim psychologically, physically and emotionally.

children of rape


With a focus on female rape, I will analyse certain concepts related to rape. While the above mentioned are the intangible and transient consequences of rape, there are often times other, tangible and more permanent consequences of rape.

These are the children of rape.

Children of rape have ambiguous identities. They represent the dark, unfortunate evidence of what their mothers had to witness. They are a constant reminder of the barbaric act against them.

children of rape
A Rwandan child of rape

Also Read: Consent Classes Reduced Rape By 50% In Kenya, Time To Do That In India


A lot of children of rape are born from wartime rape. Rape in wartime becomes a military tool to assert the dominance of one party over another. It is a strategy to weaken the stance of the rival.

Scholars have observed that women and children are seen as easy targets during war and are recurrent victims of sexual and other forms of violence. Constant battle and turmoil, accelerate the rate of rape against women.

The Rwandan genocide, violence in Burma, World War II, Partition of India, Serbian violence against Yugoslavia are a few examples where wartime rape was prevalent.

Photographer Jonathan Torgovnik in 2006, photographed and interviewed many Rwandan women who bore children of rape. He observed that while some women were appalled by their children who constantly reminded them of the act of violence, others accepted them and even felt guilty for them. They gave these children extra love.

children of rape


Psychologist Andrew Solomon’s book, Far From The Tree talks about the psychological issues these children face. They develop disorders like anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and self-loathing. They often times see themselves as impure which stems from the thought of the way they were conceived.

Scholars like Elisa Van Ee and Rolf J Kleber have observed that these children form spurious parent-child relationships and face neglect, dislike, and abuse from their mothers. The love of the mother towards the child might vary. In the case of one child being born of rape and the other being conceived willingly and with consent, the love is partial and tilts more towards the latter.

They further elaborated on the fact that Children of rape may at times feel guilty because of their rapist fathers’ actions. They blame themselves for the poor conditions of their mothers, either emotionally or psychologically.

children of rape

They constantly live in self-doubt and also have to bear the brunt of social stigma. They are often ostracized by their communities and are seen as lowly, meant to be on the fringes of society. For instance, the children of rape in Rwanda were called ‘Devil’s Children.’

However, there are some cases where women eventually develop a feeling of love and attachment towards these children of rape. This heals the psychological wounds of both the child and the mother.


While mothers who choose to keep their children of rape, will continue to face stigma and scrutiny, these women are now voicing their opinions and rights.

Children of rape too have started emerging and are breaking the stigma associated with their status. They are learning to accept themselves and their rights. Therapy and counselling are methods adopted to overcome some of these psychological disorders.

Many of them have started organisations which spread awareness about sexual assault and rape and how it can be prevented. They are joining mainstream jobs and are participating in events which give them public recognition like beauty pageants and conferences.

Children of rape are breaking away from discrimination and ostracism by openly talking about their experiences and forming communities with fellow children of rape. They aim to empower and help others battling similar issues and problems.

Sources: York University Journal, Human Rights News, The New Yorker +more

Image Source: Google Images

You’d Also Like To Read: 



  1. This is a cruel commentary. You note we’ve been able to do things other human beings do, like join beauty pageants or start organizations. That is as close as you come to recognizing our innate value and dignity as human beings. The overall tone of the piece is essentially dehumanizing, if not vilifying. It is writing like this that perpetuates the stigma.

    Children conceived by rape are children. The innocent second victims of a crime so vile that it carries a life sentence, are never to blame. You call us “dark” “reminders” in a cold display of indifference.

    “Mothers who choose to keep their babies will face stigma” because a lot of writers don’t actually talk to the people involved. You decide what the narrative should sound like. You say, “However” “some eventually develop love” in a way that makes it sound miraculous. The baby is her baby. It is natural to love our children.

    Then you say they are beginning to assert their opinions and rights, but to what end? We are left wondering what those opinions might be. I noticed that you threw in a couple of opinions from psychologists for good measure. Did you interview people? Did you actually get a diverse picture or did you read a few articles about rape in war torn countries and conclude that the “subhumans” just might rise to become people one day?

    I am a person, conceived by rape, abused as a child, trafficked as a teen and became pregnant as a result of heinous sexual abuse. I loved my child the instant I knew she existed. She is my child. Many women feel the same. You can check out some of our stories from around the world at Savethe1.com.

  2. I’m sorry you are very wrong! My son was conceived in rape and he does not remind me of the guy or situation at all when I look at my son I do not see my rapist! I see a smart caring healthy happy 12 year old who is very loved! Quit making excuses for rape victims and their children and unborn children if you have not personally been in the situation!

  3. You need to do better research. If you would like to talk, you may get in touch with me so we can set up a time. My oldest daughter, who is 24, was conceived when I was raped. You need to fix this narrative.

  4. The last thing us mothers and children want is people talking for us. My son is not a reminder, he was never a reminder. He was the blessing that saved my life after the trauma I went through. Children only feel that way because of society making them feel that way. They are not monsters, they are innocent victims as well. I do not love my 8 year old any different than my other 3 children. People need to stop talking about us and our children in such horrible ways.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here