Meaning of “rape” in “Rape of Nanking”

Someone used “the rape in Nanking” rather than “the rape of Nanking”, and I want to explain why it’s the latter, but I don’t fully understand the phrase myself!

What was the meaning of the word “rape” in the phrase “Rape of Nanking”?

Wiktionary gives several related meanings for the word, including seizing by force, or plundering destroying and despoiling, as well as forced sex. Which of these meanings was intended?


A “rape” of a city involves an orgy of arson, looting, killing, and yes, rape. Within this context, that is exactly what happened to Nanking in 1937.

A synonym for “rape” is “violate.” When a city is systematically violated by enemy soldiers (in the economic sense), it may be said to be “raped.” But such a large-scale violation of a city involves the actual rape of a large number of its women, practically by definition. Soldiers that are allowed to loot and murder by their officers usually do not “abstain” just because a potential victim is a woman.

Source : Link , Question Author : Andrew Grimm , Answer Author : Tom Au

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