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Northern Europe

Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland


Aretxaga, Begoña. 1997. Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism, and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Author: Begoña Aretxaga


This book, the first feminist ethnography of the violence in Northern Ireland, is an analysis of a political conflict through the lens of gender. The case in point is the working-class Catholic resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland. During the 1970s women in Catholic/nationalist districts of Belfast organized themselves into street committees and led popular forms of resistance against the policies of the government of Northern Ireland and, after its demise, against those of the British. In the abundant literature on the conflict, however, the political tactics of nationalist women have passed virtually unnoticed. Begoña Aretxaga argues here that these hitherto invisible practices were an integral part of the social dynamic of the conflict and had important implications for the broader organization of nationalist forms of resistance and gender relationships.

Combining interpretative anthropology and poststructuralist feminist theory, Aretxaga contributes not only to anthropology and feminist studies but also to research on ethnic and social conflict by showing the gendered constitution of political violence. She goes further than asserting that violence affects men and women differently by arguing that the manners in which violence is gendered are not fixed but constantly shifting, depending on the contingencies of history, social class, and ethnic identity. Thus any attempt at subverting gender inequality is necessarily colored by other dimensions of political experience. (Princeton University Press)

Topics: Gender, Women, Nationalism Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: United Kingdom

Year: 1997

The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings


Ekberg, Gunilla. 2004. “The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of A Sexual Service: Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings.” Violence Against Women 10 (10): 1187-218.

Author: Gunilla Ekberg


After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This groundbreaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.

Keywords: prostitution, Swedish law, trafficking in human beings

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Livelihoods, Sexual livelihoods, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2004

Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies


Gizelis, Ismene. 2004. “Gender Mainstreaming and Peace-Building in War Torn Societies.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Montreal, March 17.

Author: Ismene Gizelis


Listening to representatives from some of the most resilient conflicts (e.g. Israeli-Palestinians, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Chechnya, and Kurds) one cannot ignore that the participants either as civilians or as military personnel articulate their hatred against the opposing group. Interestingly some of the harshest words against the opposing group come from women. So far the literature has emphasized the role of women as victims (especially in the cases of rape victims) and it has ignored the role of women as active participants in the conflict. A poignant example was the hostage crisis in the Moscow theater where women were a large portion of the Chechnyan guerilla group. In previous studies I examined the impact of women to the outcome of ethnic conflicts, where the socio-economic status of women influenced their attitudes and willingness to participate in the war effort (Besançon and Gizelis 1999, 2000, 2002). Alternatively, new studies have shown that women's issues are secondary at best to demands of self-determination of the particular ethnic group. Hence, women are willing to fight for the group as a whole rather than the advancement of their own rights. Based on previous studies, women's socio-economic status might determine their ability to influence the peace settlement process. On the other hand, women might be some of the most unwilling participants in such processes, since they are the ones with most of the grievances during the conflict. Gender issues have at least nominally become mainstreamed, as an integral component of recognized human rights. Nevertheless, even in cases of interventions sponsored by the UN and/or leading democratic powers, such as the United States, there is only lip service paid to the protection of women's rights. There are three issues emerging from this discussion: First, do women actively facilitate the process of a peaceful settlement; second, do women promote policies related to gender as part of the human rights discourse; and third, do external actors who support democratic institutions and human rights values also enhance the role and rights of women in the post-war settlement. In this paper [Gizelistr[ies] to address these three questions by a comparative and cross-sectional statistical analysis of 127 civil conflicts and peace keeping operations, and by using as examples the cases of South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Israel-Palestine.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Mainstreaming, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Southern Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, United Kingdom

Year: 2004

The Duty to Protect: Gender in the Swedish Practice of Conscription


Kronsell, Annica, and Erika Svedberg. 2001. “The Duty to Protect: Gender in the Swedish Practice of Conscription.” Cooperation and Conflict 36 (2): 153–76. doi:10.1177/001083601400422379.

Authors: Annica Kronsell, Erika Svedberg


In this article, we turn first to a brief discussion of feminist contributions in the field of security, defense, and collective identity, and then argue that Swedish nationalism is tied to a particular form of collective identity formation through the practice of conscription. Drawing on Elshtain's notions of 'just warriors' and 'beautiful souls', we go on to spell out how women, historically, have been situated within the discourse of militarism. Finally, we look at how the contribution of women to the military has been perceived and argued, and then point out how a small number of female soldiers may be instrumental in exposing a particular value system of gender, citizenship, and collective identity.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2001

Discourses in Transition: Re-Imagining Women’s Security


Hamber, Brandon, Paddy Hillyard, Amy Maguire, Monica McWilliams, Gillian Robinson, David Russel, and Margaret Ward. 2006. “Discourses in Transition: Re-Imagining Women's Security.” International Relations 20 (4): 487-502.

Authors: Brandon Hamber, Paddy Hillyard, Amy Maguire, Monica McWilliams, Gillian Robinson, David Russel, Margaret Ward


This article employs data gathered in Lebanon, Northern Ireland and South Africa as part of a project entitled ‘Re-Imagining Women's Security and Participation in Post-Conflict Societies’. It reflects on three different ‘imaginings’ of security–the state security discourse, the human security discourse and a gendered security approach–with the aim of showing that security discourses are currently undergoing a process of transition which parallels that taking place in post-conflict societies around the world. The article is particularly concerned to explore how a gendered security approach might empower women to re-imagine security in contextualised, bottom-up ways, and advocate social transformation within the broader processes of post-conflict transition. In order to consider women's demands for security policies and approaches in the twenty-first century, the article explores the direct testimony of women in three post-conflict societies, with specific reference to three key areas of security central to women's re-imaginings of the concept.

Keywords: feminist methodology, gendered security, human security, security dialogue, United Nations

Topics: Gender, Women, Post-Conflict, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, MENA, Southern Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Lebanon, South Africa, United Kingdom

Year: 2006

The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict


Cockburn, Cynthia. 1998. The Space Between Us: Negotiating Gender and National Identities in Conflict. London: Zed Books.

Author: Cynthia Cockburn


In this original study, Cynthia Cockburn takes us into three war situations to reveal how certain women have quietly chosen to cross the space between their differences with words instead of bullets. (WorldCat)

Keywords: conflict, identity politics, law, reconstruction

Topics: Armed Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Nationalism, Peacebuilding Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, United Kingdom

Year: 1998

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Psychiatric Co-Morbidity: Symptoms in a Random Sample of Female Bosnian Refugees


Sundquist, Kristina, Leena-Maria Johansson, Valeri DeMarinis, Sven-Erik Johansson, Jan Sundquist. 2005. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Psychiatric Co-Morbidity: Symptoms in a Random Sample of Female Bosnian Refugees." European Psychiatry 20 (2): 158-164.

Authors: Kristina Sundquist, Leena-Maria Johansson, Valeri DeMarinis, Sven-Erik Johansson, Jan Sundquist


Objectives: This study investigated psychological symptoms in Bosnian women 3–4 years after their arrival in Sweden.

Subjects and methods: A simple random sample of 163 Bosnian women aged 19–59 was drawn from the Swedish populations register in 1996. The control group consisted of 392 Swedish-born women. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist 25 (HSCL-25) and the Posttraumatic Symptom Scale (PTSS-10) were used to measure psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) for psychological symptoms after adjustment for age, country of birth, education, marital status, economic difficulties, social network, and feeling secure.

Results: The prevalence of symptoms of PTSD was 28.3% among the Bosnian women. Bosnian women had significantly higher risks of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress than Swedish-born women. For depression the odds ratio was 9.50 among Bosnian women.

Conclusion: Psychiatric community interventions need to target Bosnian refugee women. Awareness among health-care workers who encounter these women in a clinical setting should be improved.

Keywords: posttraumatic stress disorder, mental health, female refugees, depression, anxiety

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sweden

Year: 2005

Rape, Love and War - Personal or Political?


Ericsson, Kjersti. 2011. "Rape, Love and WarPersonal or Political?" Theoretical Criminology 15 (1): 67-82.

Author: Kjersti Ericsson


This article discusses how war rapes and consensual sexual relationships with enemy soldiers are framed and understood, with special emphasis on the consequences for the women involved. It [examines] war rapes in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkan war and Danish and Norwegian women's sexual relationships with German occupant soldiers during the Second World War. I argue that the conception of women's sexuality as national property is central to understanding the attitudes towards both categories of women. To preserve their dignity, war rape victims may profit from a collective, political discourse. Women having had consensual relationships [with] enemy soldiers, however, have to extricate themselves from the collective and political discourse and interpret what happened to them as strictly personal.

Keywords: war rape, coping strategies, nation, sexuality, victim


Uses empirical research that has been done in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark, Norway (latter countries in the post-WWII era). (Ericsson 67-70)


"Rape used as a weapon of war demonstrates that women in one sense are objects of men's transactions in this context: they are not violated as individual women, but as the nation's women: the attack on their sexuality is an affront to the national collective of men." (71)

"Despite this, not even war rape victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina could escape the suspicion that they might have been implicated in their own violation." (73)

"The stories of the Norwegian war children make one wonder: how will the mothers of children conceived through war rapes deal with questions from their sons and daughters when they want to know who their father is?" (76)

"To put it very shortly: relief for the rape victims lies in framing themselves as part of the collective, while for someone with consensual relations it lies in framing themselves as individuals." (77)

"Skjelsbæk mentions a fatwa issued by the imam of Sarajevo in 1994, a fatwa that both she and several of her interviewees deem very important.  In the fatwa, the imam declared that Bosnian women who had been subjected to sexual violence ought to be looked upon as war heroes.  The message that war rape victims were to be considered war heroes, and not least the source of this message, a religious authority, made this alternative conception a possible resource, both to individual women that had experienced rape, and for therapeutic work with rape victims." (77)

"On the other hand, if rape is understood mainly in a gendered frame of reference, the woman feels her female identity as damaged, and shame, guilt, and silence is the result." (78)

"However, if solidarity with raped women is made contingent upon a strong identification with the ethnic group, the woman as an autonomous individual may be seen as less important.  Even if the rape victim, through the ethnic interpretation, may escape being constructed as a woman of questionable morals, or as 'damaged goods' as Skjelsbæk  points out, other aspects of patriarchal patterns may nevertheless assert themselves….Some of the health workers interviewed by Skjelsbæk  also feel that there has been an increase in violence against women in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina.  If this holds true, it fits with a conception of woman's body belonging to her ethnic or national group in the patriarchal sense, an ownership that is threatened in war and may have to be reinforced in post-war times.  If there has really been a backlash, this may perhaps be a manifestation of the sinister side of the notion linking a woman's body very strongly to her ethnic group." (79)


Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Ethnicity, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Security, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women, Sexuality Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Norway

Year: 2011


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