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Huda, Rihab, and Jessica: Orientalism and the Construction of Gender in Representations of the War on Iraq


Riley, Robin. 2009. “Huda, Rihab, and Jessica: Orientalism and the Construction of Gender in Representations of the War on Iraq.” Presented In Le Centre Sheraton Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: International Studies Association. 

Author: Robin Riley


The volume of news coverage generated around Jessica Lynch's capture by the Iraqis, her rescue, and her subsequent return to the US, hid from view not only other US American women who were similarly situated like Native American, Lori Piestewa, and African American Shoshona Johnson, but it also obscured the peril and devastation that first sanctions, then the war, imposed on Iraqi women. Instead, the Iraqi women westerners were made familiar with were the ominously nicknamed, Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax. The suffering of Iraqi women due to sanctions, was not a part of Western consciousness, and in the build-up to the war, women were not the focus of the western press who were obsessed with the detailing of Saddam Hussein's sins and predictions of his future actions. Even as the war commenced, we, in the US were rarely treated to images of ordinary Iraqi women who attempted to go about their lives while the bombs dropped around, and sometimes on, them. Today, we still have little knowledge about whether Iraqi women were imprisoned by US American or British troops as they swept across Iraq, or how many Iraqi women were killed as a result of American aggression. Consequently, Rihab Taha and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, two evil women who worked in Saddam Hussein's administration came to represent all Iraqi, indeed, all Arab women. The news stories about Rihab Taha and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash were used in US American popular culture to buttress Orientalist ideas about the West and its relationship to Iraq and the Arab world, and to reinforce old ideas about mysterious, often sinister woman of color. These narratives work not only to support the Bush administration's foreign policy and aggression against Iraq, but they also reinforce male supremacy and white supremacy. This research is an analysis of popular news accounts of the time including newspapers, magazines and television news stories. These stories reveal how the US thinks of itself in relation to the rest of the world and how enforcement of the proper practice of gender is always the subtext of these accounts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Americas, North America, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2009

Living with Patriarchy and Poverty: Women’s Agency and the Spatialities of Gender Relations in Afghanistan


Schütte, Stefan. 2014. “Living with Patriarchy and Poverty: Women’s Agency and the Spatialities of Gender Relations in Afghanistan.” Gender, Place & Culture 21 (9): 1176–92. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2013.832661.

Author: Stefan Schütte


This article examines the spatialities of gender relations and women’s oppression in urban Afghanistan under conditions of poverty and strict patriarchy. Using empirical data from biographical interviews with Afghan women from urban households in Kabul, Herat, and Jalalabad, the article questions how gender as social relation and gender as difference is lived and experienced among the urban poor in Afghanistan. Looking at urban livelihoods through the lens of feminist geography helps to better understand the gendered spaces of home and the outside world, of households as sites of security and violence, and of urban contexts and ethnic affiliations. The approach allows for reflection on women’s subjectivities and their own understandings of gender inequality and injustice. Examining the gendered geographies in urban Afghanistan shows how social difference is lived under conditions of patriarchy and poverty and how women’s agency contributes to the livelihoods of their households. 


Keywords: Afghanistan, gender, women, urban poverty, marriage systems, livelihood security

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2014

The Precarity of Feminisation: On Domestic Work, Heteronormativity and the Coloniality of Labour


Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Encarnación. 2014. “The Precarity of Feminisation: On Domestic Work, Heteronormativity and the Coloniality of Labour.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 27 (2): 191–202. doi:10.1007/s10767-013-9154-7.

Author: Encarnación Gutiérrez-Rodríguez


Despite women’s increasing participation in the labour market and attempts to transform the traditional gendered division of work, domestic and care work is still perceived as women’s terrain. This work continues to be invisible in terms of the organisation of production or productive value and domestic and care work continues to be unpaid or low paid. Taking domestic and care work as an expression of the feminisation of labour, this article will attempt to complicate this analysis by first exploring a queer critique of feminisation, and second, by situating feminisation within the context of the coloniality of power. Drawing on research conducted in Austria, Germany, Spain and the UK on the organisation of domestic work in private households, the article will conclude with some observations on the interconnectedness of feminisation, heteronormativity and the coloniality of power in the analysis of the expansion of precarity in the EU zone.

Keywords: coloniality, feminisation, Europe, heteronormativity, precarity

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Livelihoods Regions: Europe, Central Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Austria, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom

Year: 2014

Engendering Transitional Justice: a Transformative Approach to Building Peace and Attaining Human Rights for Women


Lambourne, Wendy, and Vivianna Rodriguez Carreon. 2016. “Engendering Transitional Justice: A Transformative Approach to Building Peace and Attaining Human Rights for Women.” Human Rights Review 17 (1): 71–93.

Authors: Wendy Lambourne, Vivianna Rodriguez Carreon


In this article, we examine the continuity of harms and traumas experienced by women before, during and after war and other mass violence. We focus on women because of the particular challenges they face in accessing justice due to patriarchal structures and ongoing discrimination in the political, economic and social, as well as legal spheres, and because of the gendered nature of the crimes and harms they experience. We use the four key pillars of transitional justice identified by the United Nations as a framework to analyse how these harms are addressed in the context of criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations and institutional reform. We conclude that a gender-transformative approach to transitional justice that focuses on transforming psychosocial, socioeconomic and political power relations in society is needed in order to attain human rights for women and build a sustainable peace.

Keywords: gender, women's rights, sexual violence, transitional justice, peace building, transformative justice

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Peacebuilding, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Violence

Year: 2016

Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives


Fernando, Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda, and Laurie Cohen. 2014. “Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 149–64. doi:10.1111/gwao.12027.

Authors: Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda Fernando, Laurie Cohen


This paper places respectable femininity at the very centre of career enactment. In the accounts of 24 Sri Lankan women, notions of being a ‘respectable’ woman recurred as respondents described how important it was to adhere to the powerful behavioural norms for women in their organizations and society. However while such respectability was vital for women's career progression, it ultimately restricted their agency and conflicted with other requirements for advancement. Based on our empirical findings, we propose that being a respectable woman was experienced as paradox, where at times it was seen as impossible to be both a good woman and a successful careerist. We highlight the implications of our findings for women's careers in South Asia and more widely.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2014

Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.


Fischer, Gundula. 2014. “Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 135–48. doi:10.1111/gwao.12026.

Author: Gundula Fischer


Although female labour force participation in Tanzania is growing, little is known about how hiring authorities fill job positions with respect to gender. Qualitative interviews with hospitality and manufacturing managers in Mwanza (Tanzania's second largest city) reveal that female deference, sexuality, domesticity and respectability constitute important recruitment and job placement criteria. This article examines the various notions behind these criteria and how they serve to include or exclude women in the workforce. It is shown that when the interaction of these criteria is conceptualized, deference and domesticity emerge as essential elements of female respectability, supporting each other in the control of women's sexuality.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Sexuality Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2014

The Violence of Peace: Ethnojustice in Northern Uganda


Branch, Adam. 2014. “The Violence of Peace: Ethnojustice in Northern Uganda.” Development and Change 45 (3): 608–30. doi:10.1111/dech.12094.

Author: Adam Branch


Traditional justice, or what this article refers to as ‘ethnojustice’, claims to promote social reconstruction, peace and justice after episodes of war by rebuilding traditional order. Ethnojustice has become an increasingly prominent mode of transitional justice in northern Uganda. As such interventions multiply throughout Africa, it is essential to probe their political and practical consequences. This article situates ethnojustice theoretically within the broader discourse, practice and institutions of transitional justice, and historically within the reaction against orthodox liberal transitional justice from within the industry. Through an engagement with ethnojustice texts and interventions in the Acholi region of northern Uganda, the article argues that ethnojustice can end up extending forms of unaccountable, patriarchal power within Acholi society, funded and supported by the Ugandan state and international donors. In addition to underpinning this project of social discipline, ethnojustice also benefits the Ugandan state in its effort to avoid accountability for its violence during the war.

Topics: Ethnicity, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2014

Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and its Prospect as Implicit Genocide


Jessie, Soh Sie Eng. 2006. “Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and Its Prospect as Implicit Genocide.” New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 4 (2): 311.

Author: Soh Sie Eng Jessie


The Bosnia–Herzegovina political conflict between 1992 and 1995 shone international light on the use of forced pregnancy campaigns as tools in ethnic conflicts. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the first international treaty to explicitly define the crime of forced pregnancy, but its enactment was controversial. This article discusses the intensive opposition to its inclusion in the Rome Statute, from religious, cultural and political perspectives. It also suggests that domestic antiabortion laws and control over women's reproductive rights raise different issues from a forced pregnancy provision, and that there was a need for the express codification of forced pregnancy as a separate offence, given that it is neither novel nor rare. The Rome Statute lists forced pregnancy as a separate offence, but it is not expressly criminalised as genocide. However, this article argues that forced pregnancy is implicit genocide. It involves attacking women in the targeted group for the purpose of their impregnation through rape, and their detention to facilitate the birth of resulting babies. Forced pregnancy campaigns infiltrate the targeted community through gene pool pollution and manipulation of cultural beliefs.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Genocide, Health, Reproductive Health, International Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Sexual Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2006

From Benevolent Patriarchy to Gender Transformation: A Case Study of Pakistan’s ‘We Can End Violence against Women’ Program.


Wu, Joyce. 2011. “From Benevolent Patriarchy to Gender Transformation: A Case Study of Pakistan’s ‘We Can End Violence against Women’ Program.” In Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices, 219–31. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Author: Joyce Wu


"Ending violence against women and promoting gender equality have long been on the agenda of Pakistani women and human rights activists. In Pakistan and many other developing countries, initiatives that engage with men from a profeminist framework is a relatively new concept, and more or less in sync with the shifting trend of the international development field, which has moved away from a Women in Development (WID) approach to a Gender and Development (GAD) (Lang 2003, 2; Flood 2004, 43-44). In summary, GAD focuses on institutional changes and the examination of gender roles and norms in relation to social divisions, as well as gender-mainstreaming in institutions, and a greater focus on men's role in contributing toward gender equality. In this context, the focus on engaging with men and boys to end violence against women (VAW) is becoming more readily accepted by international donors and partner organizations. Due to the security and humanitarian circumstances in Pakistan, international donors and NGOs have mainly prioritized disaster relief and reconstruction, though there has been an increase in projects that focus on men's behavioral change and ending violence against women [...] In this article, I will first examine the challenges faced by NGOs when engaging with local communities – especially men and boys – on the issue of violence against women in Pakistan. I will then provide the case study of Oxfam Great Britain's regional program, We Can End Violence against Women (referred as "We Can"), which engages with both men and women in local communities. Through We Can, I will illustrate the challenges of working with men and boys, as well as highlight the innovative approaches used to change the dominant norms at both personal and societal levels in Pakistan (Wu, 2011: 219-20)."

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Men, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Sexual Violence, SV against women, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Pakistan

Year: 2011

Precursors to Femicide: Guatemalan Women in a Vortex of Violence


Carey Jr., David, and M. Gabriela Torres. 2010. “Precursors to Femicide: Guatemalan Women in a Vortex of Violence.” Latin American Research Review 45 (3): 142–64.

Authors: David Carey Jr., M. Gabriela Torres


Today women in Guatemala are killed at nearly the same rate as they were in the early 1980s when the civil war became genocidal. Yet the current femicide epidemic is less an aberration than a reflection of the way violence against women has become normalized in Guatemala. Used to re-inscribe patriarchy and sustain both dictatorships and democracies, gender-based violence morphed into femicide when peacetime governments became too weak to control extralegal and paramilitary powers. The naturalization of gender-based violence over the course of the twentieth century maintained and promoted the systemic impunity that undergirds femicide today. By accounting for the gendered and historical dimensions of the cultural practices of violence and impunity, we offer a re-conceptualization of the social relations that perpetuate femicide as an expression of post-war violence. 

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Impunity, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2010


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