A challenge to discourse on gender and violence
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A challenge to discourse on gender and violence. rape as a tool of war. Definitions. International Humanitarian Law is “a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons to limit the effects of armed conflict” (ICRC, 2004)

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  • International Humanitarian Law is “a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons to limit the effects of armed conflict” (ICRC, 2004)

  • Gender-Based Violence as “violence, sexual or otherwise, which plays on gender norms and gender exclusions to break people down both physically and psychologically (BRIDGE Report, 2003)

  • “Rape as a cross- cultural language of male domination (that is domination by males; it can also be domination of males)” (Card, 1996)


  • “Up to 50,000 women were raped in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and up to 500,000 during the Rwandan genocide. Horrifyingly still, 40 women are brutally raped each day in just one province of DRC” (Care UK, 2009)

  • “In the DRC at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence have been recorded since 1996” (UNHCR, 2010)

  • “New UN figures show 1,244 women have been raped in DRC during the first three months of this year”

The rape of an ethnic group
The Rape of an Ethnic Group

  • Serbian regime recognized cultural and religious norms, and sought to destroy/break them

  • Patriarchal Society- women’s bodies as property of men

  • “In wartime, violation of female honor is a weapon used by the men of one ethnic group against those of another” (Olujic,1998, pg39)

  • It is “through the penetration of a woman’s corporeal body that the social body of her family is permanently and irretrievably damaged” (Olujic,1998, pg44)

  • Shared concept of Honor/ Shame/ Sexuality that are attached to women’s bodies

International humanitarian law and the united nation s current position
International Humanitarian Law and the United Nation’s Current Position

  • 1949: Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

  • 1990s-2000s: Decisions of the ICTY and the ICTR

  • 1998: The Statute of the International Criminal Court

…continued Current Position

UN Resolution 1325:

  • Reflection on conflicts during the 90’s in the Balkans and Rwanda

  • Focuses on women, peace and security

  • Women and children as vulnerable groups in conflict and that they often make up the majority of refugees and IDP’s

  • Calls for women to be involved in peace building and post-conflict reconstruction as well as peacekeeping deliberations. (Scully, 2009)

…continued Current Position

UN Resolution 1820:

  • Links sexual violence against women and girls to threats to international peace and security

  • Reflection on conflicts during 2000’s such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and the DRC

  • Sexual crimes to be excluded from any amnesty provisions

  • Zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse by Peacekeeping forces

  • Calls for an end to impunity

Where the gaps remain
Where the Gaps Remain Current Position

  • Recognizing the link between peacetime and war

  • Lack of reference to men and boys as victims

  • Implementation and enforcement?

National response to raped victims in bangladesh

National Response to Raped Victims in Bangladesh Current Position

Institutional Violence

Gender in institutions
Gender in institutions Current Position

  • The construction of gender explains the continuum of misogyny through state institutions

  • Gender is understood in South Asia through the overarching environment of patriarchy

  • Thus a woman’s sexuality is considered responsible for crimes against women and instrumentalized by the concept of ‘honor’

Misogyny translated into institutional violence Current Position

Bangladesh initiated 3 national programmes:

  • The national use of the term ‘Birangonas.’ To title the raped victims as heroes purportedly to “acknowledge their ‘sacrifice’ for the country”

  • “Marry them off campaign”

  • “National Central Women’s Rehabilitation Board” included abortion, adoption and the “rehabilitation” of victims

The outcome of the national programme
The outcome of the national programme Current Position

  • Disingenuous efforts of the government

  • The programmes back fired with results that further traumatized the victims

  • Bangladeshi men’s concerns addressed and their crimes overlooked

Continuum of institutional violence from disingenuity to indifference
Continuum of institutional violence: From disingenuity to indifference?

  • Post conflict local reconstruction: Bangladesh govt. Understood the politics of gender norms, but only addressed the concerns of male social codes.

  • Post conflict international peacekeeping: International institutional bodies lack of local knowledge. Indifference?

  • Both forms of institutional violence illustrate the exacerbation of gender violence.

Challenges to the savior complex

Challenges to the “Savior Complex” indifference?

Peace keepers?

Peacekeepers channels of gender assumptions
Peacekeepers – channels of gender assumptions? indifference?

  • UN peacekeepers to facilitate a return to normal in war-torn societies, but…

  • Failure to understand the politics of masculinity and femininity (Cockburn & Zarkov, 11: 2002)

  • Troop contributing countries deploy gender concepts

  • Role of masculinity in military culture (Patel & Tripodi)

  • Aggressive and predatory forces entrench violent and unstable environments (Cockburn)

  • Gender awareness training – underfunded and rarely taken seriously (Murphy, 2006)

Peacekeepers as violators
Peacekeepers as violators indifference?

  • Zeid Report: widespread instances of rape on the part of UN peacekeepers (Vojdik, 2007)

  • Violence against women by peacekeepers – part of the continuum of violence?

  • Exploitative relations – easy to establish in post-conflict environments (Murphy, 2006)

  • Male peacekeepers vs female peacekeepers – abuses of power?

  • ‘As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as consensual sex between soldiers and the local population in a war or conflict zone’ – Gen. Romeo Dallaire

Who guards the guards du plessis and pete
Who guards the guards? (Du Plessis and Pete) indifference?

  • UN PK forces = subsidiary organ of the UN

  • Inability to hold individual peacekeepers accountable

  • Little alternative to present system where UN forces are prosecuted by relevant national authorities

  • Difficulties in prosecution

  • Zeid report: proposes broad ‘Peacekeeping Bill of Rights’

  • Role of the ICC? (Du Plessis & Pete)

Women peace and security
Women, Peace and Security indifference?

  • Women’s potential and strength in post-war situations

  • Resolution 1325 – a step in the chain of attempts to mainstream gender in UN discourse in peace operations

  • UN gender discourse and the confines of modernity

  • Nature/body/private/women/peace vs. culture/mind/public/men/war (Vayrynen)

  • State-centred and patriarchal practices of conflict resolution and peacebuilding

A challenge to discourse on gender and violence1

A challenge to discourse on gender and violence indifference?

men, only perpetrators?

Gender based violence against men
Gender based violence against men indifference?

  • Sex selective massacres

  • Forced recruitment

  • Sexual violence

Sex selective massacres
Sex selective massacres indifference?

  • Men are more likely to take up arms

  • Men, not women, are assumed to carry ethnicity

  • Only the “humans” need be killed

  • Men are seen as disposable

Sex selective massacres1
Sex selective massacres indifference?

  • Vukovar (November 1991) 200 – 300 Croatian men executed

  • Vlasic (August 1992) 200-250 male prisoners executed

  • Brcko (spring / summer 1992) Muslim men routinely executed, some 3000 estimated to have died.

  • Srebrenica (July 1995) men explicitly separated from women & children and over 8000 executed

Conscription indifference?

  • ‘Men are made not born’ (Goldstein 2001)

  • Forced recruitment responsible for millions of overwhelmingly male deaths throughout history

  • The uncritical assumption that men, real men, will fight for their country when asked

Sexual violence
Sexual Violence indifference?

  • Being raped

  • Being forced to commit rape and other gratuitous sexual acts

  • Being forced to witness sexual violence, esp. against loved ones

  • Castration – explicitly connected to the feminization of the enemy

Sexual violence1
Sexual Violence indifference?

  • Shame is the glue that holds the man-making process together. Males who fail tests of manhood are publicly shamed, humiliated, and become a negative example for others (Goldstein 2001)

Men beyond perpetrators
Men, beyond perpetrators indifference?

  • Gender-based violence affects both men and women

  • Men must be considered victims of the construction of a dominant hegemonic masculinity

  • ‘Men are more vulnerable to getting killed. That’s a pretty big deal... Dead is dead’ (Carpenter 2006)

A challenge to discourse on gender and violence2

A challenge to discourse on gender and violence indifference?

“Girls with guns”

Protected indifference?




Mothers, wives, daughters









Whores or sexual deviants
Whores or Sexual Deviants? indifference?


The Gorgons


Leila Khaled

Bernardine Dohrn

Girls with guns and gender equality
“Girls with guns” and indifference?gender equality?

  • Where is the equality line drawn?

  • Nationalist struggles – avenue for equality, or recreating patriarchy?

  • Women as soldiers and violence against women