Carolyn Burdett


When wars are fought, anxiety about sexual behaviour never seems far away. Will men behave like men on the battlefield? Or will they misbehave like men, and commit atrocities against soldiers or civilians - and even, perhaps, against women? Such worries surfaced in the English periodical press during the Boer War in a sharp exchange between the journalist and campaigner, W.T. Stead,1 and the writer Arthur Conan Doyle. In a piece entitled Methods of Barbarism (1901),2 Stead charged British troops with the sexual abuse and rape of unprotected Boer women made vulnerable by the British policy of destroying Boer homesteads. This latter policy was at the heart of the British response to Boer guerrilla tactics following defeats during 1900. Boer farms were providing a support system which their destruction was intended to break, while simultaneously demoralizing Boer combatants.



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