A 2016 article from the Indian Express, When raped women and war babies paid the price of a new nation, refers to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and states:

An official estimate of 200,000 to 400,000 women were raped by the Pakistani military and the supporting Bihari and Bengali Razakar and al-Badr militias.

An investigation done by any neutral and credible international agency would have given this claim some basis. At the moment, it seems that there was no investigation undertaken by the claimant party thus far. The numbers were quoted on the basis of a casual remark of an individual.

Is there any evidence that this many women were raped?

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    I've deleted some confused semi-self-deleted comment conversations about the nature of evidence. It boils down to this: It seems unlikely that hundreds of thousands of rapes will have been well-documented, leaving us only estimations based on limited evidence. What kind of evidence would you accept in an answer as convincing for or against the claim?
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 8, 2018 at 16:10
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    No, that is a false dichotomy. I am concerned you are setting the hurdle for evidence so high that, even if the claim were true, it could never be met.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 8, 2018 at 17:12
  • @Oddthinking Evidence “against the claim”? It’s not symmetric. You know where burden of proof lies – you know who’s making the positive existential claim – even if you find it offensive. Rationally, one requires evidence to prove a claim, not assume a claim is true and demand evidence against it. Jul 19, 2020 at 2:30
  • Moreover, you think it’s “hundreds of thousands of rapes” are unlikely to be well-documented? Hundreds of thousands? In the late 20th century? That is not obvious. You’re presupposing something. Jul 19, 2020 at 2:36
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    @JustSomeOldMan: You also took my comment out of context. I think it is unlikely (I haven't presupposed it) that there are hundreds of thousands of documented rape cases by the Pakistani military and related militias during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. In now-deleted comments, and in the edit history, the OP demanded a level of evidence that was nigh-impossible to meet. The original claim was an estimate, not a count of convictions, and demanding documented evidence for every rape is tackling a strawman.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 19, 2020 at 6:30

1 Answer 1


The ultimate source(s) of the numbers can be easily found in the Wikipedia article (which is well referenced):

A doctor at a rehabilitation centre in Dhaka reported 170,000 abortions of pregnancies caused by the rapes, and the births of 30,000 war babies during the first three months of 1972.[81] Dr. Geoffrey Davis, an Australian doctor and abortion specialist who worked for the programme, estimated that there had been about 5,000 cases of self-induced abortions.[82] He also said that during his work he heard of numerous infanticides and suicides by victims. His estimate of the total number of rape victims was 400,000, twice as high as the official estimate of 200,000 cited by the Bangladeshi government.[83]

There were apparently enough Western academics trusting these numbers. On the other hand, the official Pakistani position still seems to be that the rapes only "numbered in the hundreds" (according to the the Wikipedia page).

These numbers are not official or the subject of a rigorous investigation. The number of Birangonas listed by name in official records (following a 2014 High Court decision to recognized them as freedom fighters) has reached 185 as of June last year (the most recent article I could find). So there is indeed a very large gap [at the moment] between individually accounted for victims and initial/rough estimates.

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    These numbers are not official or the subject of a rigorous investigation. - true.
    – user42178
    Jun 8, 2018 at 18:42
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    For comparison, there were 586,760 abortions in the US in 1972.
    – bishop
    Jul 18, 2020 at 16:21
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    This makes no sense--they're counting the number of rape victims by the number of rape conceptions? Most rapes don't lead to pregnancy! 200,000 conceptions means a lot more than 200,000 rapes, although it doesn't give a count. Jul 19, 2020 at 3:58

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