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Sierra Leone

The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Citation:

Hoffman, Danny. 2011. The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Cultures and Practice of Violence. Duke University Press.

 

Author: Danny Hoffman

Abstract:

"In The War Machines, Danny Hoffman considers how young men are made available for violent labor both on the battlefields and in the diamond mines, rubber plantations, and other unregulated industries of West Africa. Based on his ethnographic research with militia groups in Sierra Leone and Liberia during those countries’ recent civil wars, Hoffman traces the path of young fighters who moved from grassroots community-defense organizations in Sierra Leone during the mid-1990s into a large pool of mercenary labor.

Hoffman argues that in contemporary West Africa, space, sociality, and life itself are organized around making young men available for all manner of dangerous work. Drawing on his ethnographic research over the past nine years, as well as the anthropology of violence, interdisciplinary security studies, and contemporary critical theory, he maintains that the mobilization of West African men exemplifies a global trend in the outsourcing of warfare and security operations. A similar dynamic underlies the political economy of violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a growing number of postcolonial spaces. An experienced photojournalist, Hoffman integrates more than fifty of his photographs of young West Africans into The War Machines."

(Duke University Press)

Annotation: Illustrations ix Preface xi Acknowledgments xxiii Introduction: War Machines 1 I. Histories 1. The Mano River War: A Chronology 27 2. Hunters, Lumpens, and War Boys: A Social History of the Kamajors 55 3. States of Conflict: A Social History of the Kamajors Continued 88 II. Building The Barracks 4. Big Men, Small Boys 127 5. The Barracks 162 6. The Hotel Kamajor 194 7. The Magic of War 224 Conclusion: A Laboratory of the Future 252 Notes 261 Bibliography 273 Index 289

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Livelihoods, Security, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone

Year: 2011

Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative

Citation:

Mibenge, Chiseche Salome. 2013. Sex and International Tribunals: The Erasure of Gender from the War Narrative. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press. 

Author: Chiseche Salome Mibenge

Abstract:

Before the twenty-first century, there was little legal precedent for the prosecution of sexual violence as a war crime. Now, international tribunals have the potential to help make sense of political violence against both men and women; they have the power to uphold victims' claims and to convict the leaders and choreographers of systematic atrocity. However, by privileging certain accounts of violence over others, tribunals more often confirm outmoded gender norms, consigning women to permanent rape victim status.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, International Criminal Law, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Post-Conflict, SV against women, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Rwanda, Sierra Leone

Year: 2013

Sexing the State: The Gendered Origins of the Civil War in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Lahai, John Idriss. 2010. “Sexing the State: The Gendered Origins of the Civil War in Sierra Leone.” Minerva Journal of Women and War 4 (2): 26–45. doi:10.3172/MIN.4.2.26.

 

Author: John Idriss Lahai

Abstract:

As a rethink to the existing gender-neutral argument surrounding the causes of the civil war in Sierra Leone, this article presents an alternative framework of pre-war gender structural inequality to explain the conflict. While it does not present a feminist-essentialist argument in defense of the nuanced "peaceful" nature of women, it contends that the long standing exclusion of women in politics, and the lack of social and economic structural equality - which also precipitated the social and political acceptance of violence - should be understood as an antecedent to the war. And it is also argued in this article that although the youth bulge contributed to a militarized culture before the war, the crux of the problem was the lack of women's pre-war reproductive rights and sexual autonomy. To insist on a gendered reasoning to explain civil wars, we should note, appears to be part of the feminist call for the recognition of gender (in)equality in the war-peace calculus. Despite that, it also bears some positive analytical framework for interpreting the "male-instigated" civil wars and the violence that occurred therein (see, e.g., Cockburn 2001). Against this backdrop, we cannot explain the ways how the war affected women, without looking at the pre-war gender structural inequalities. Thus, it is hoped that this article will give voice to women and explain how women's low status contributed to the militarization of pre-war state politics, in the subsequent war, and in shaping the patterns of wartime sexual and gender-based violence between 1991 and 2002.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2010

Combating Postconflict Violence Against Women: An Analysis of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean Governments’ Efforts to Address the Problem

Citation:

Medie, P.A. 2012. “Combating Postconflict Violence Against Women: An Analysis of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean Governments’ Efforts to Address the Problem.” In Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: International Law, Local Responses. Sterling: Kumarian Press. https://www.rienner.com/title/Conflict_Related_Sexual_Violence_International_Law_Local_Responses.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

Sexual Violence in Sierra Leone’s Civil War: ‘Virgination’, Rape, and Marriage

Citation:

Marks, Zoe. 2014. “Sexual Violence in Sierra Leone’s Civil War: ‘Virgination’, Rape, and Marriage.” African Affairs 113 (450): 67–87. doi:10.1093/afraf/adt070.

 

Author: Zoe Marks

Abstract:

Rape and sexual violence loom large in the study of civil war in Africa. Sierra Leone has been one of the most prominent cases for establishing rape as a ‘weapon of war,' yet little is known about how sexual violence was understood by commanders or combatants within the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Mainstream analyses of armed groups and civil war rarely engage with gender dynamics, despite their centrality to war making, power, and violence; and research that does focus on sexual violence tends to overlook the complex internal dynamics of the groups responsible. This article examines the internal gender dynamics of the RUF from the perspective of male and female members in seeking to understand the perpetration of sexual violence. It shows that both formal and informal laws and power structures existed to regulate gender relations and control sexual behaviour within the group. It identifies four categories of women – non-wives, unprotected wives, protected wives, and senior women – and shows that women's interests and experiences of sexual violence were not homogeneous, but were instead shaped by their status within the group. In this way, sexual violence, examined in social context, provides an entry point for understanding how power, protection, and access to resources are brokered in rebellion.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Class, Combatants, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2014

Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security, and Post-Conflict Development

Citation:

MacKenzie, Megan H. 2012. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone: Sex, Security, and Post-Conflict Development. New York: New York University Press.

Author: Megan H. MacKenzie

Abstract:

The eleven-year civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 was incomprehensibly brutal—it is estimated that half of all female refugees were raped and many thousands were killed. While the publicity surrounding sexual violence helped to create a general picture of women and girls as victims of the conflict, there has been little effort to understand female soldiers’ involvement in, and experience of, the conflict. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone draws on interviews with 75 former female soldiers and over 20 local experts, providing a rare perspective on both the civil war and post-conflict development efforts in the country. Megan MacKenzie argues that post-conflict reconstruction is a highly gendered process, demonstrating that a clear recognition and understanding of the roles and experiences of female soldiers are central to both understanding the conflict and to crafting effective policy for the future. (New York University Press)

Topics: Civil Wars, Female Combatants, Development, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rape, SV against women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2012

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: International Law, Local Responses

Citation:

St. Germain, Tonia, and Susan Dewey, eds. 2012. Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: International Law, Local Responses. Sterling, Va: Kumarian Press.

Authors: Tonia St. Germain, Susan Dewey

Abstract:

The result of a collaboration between a feminist legal scholar and an anthropologist, Conflict-Related Sexual Violence presents completely original work by anthropologists, international human rights lawyers, legal theorists, political scientists, mental health professionals, and activists who report upon their respective research regarding responses to conflict-related sexual violence in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and South Africa. Much more than a series of case studies, though, the bulk of the book addresses the implications of international responses to conflict-related sexual violence through analyses of the gaps between policy and practice with respect to efforts made by international organizations, criminal courts and tribunals to reduce or respond to conflict-related sexual violence. Scholarly, reflective, provocative yet practical and action-oriented, this book exemplifies a visionary blending of analysis, evidence, concepts and programs for ameliorating the lot of those whose lives are framed by war and conflict and the striving to find healing and justice.

(Kumarian Press)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, International Law, Justice, NGOs, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, South America, Asia, South Asia, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colombia, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa

Year: 2012

Domestic Accountability for Sexual Violence: The Potential of Specialized Units in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda

Citation:

Seelinger, Kim Thuy. 2015. “Domestic Accountability for Sexual Violence: The Potential of Specialized Units in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.” International Review of the Red Cross 96 (894): 539–64.

Author: Kim Thuy Seelinger

Abstract:

From 2011 to 2014, the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law conducted qualitative research in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda to identify accountability mechanisms and challenges related to sexual violence committed during periods of conflict or political unrest. This article shares two aspects of that research: first, it presents key challenges related to the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual violence committed during and after the periods of recent conflict. Second, it flags the emergence of specialized units tasked with investigating and prosecuting either sexual and gender-based violence or international crimes, noting the operational gap between these institutions. It notes that if not bridged, this gap may impede responses for the intersecting issue of sexual violence committed as an international crime. The article closes with recommendations for a more coordinated response and more accountability at the domestic level.

Keywords: sexual violence, conflict-related sexual violence, international crimes, Rome Statute, complementarity, accountability, wartime rape, specialized units, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Topics: International Law, International Criminal Law, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, West Africa Countries: Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2014

Why Testify? Witnesses’ Motivations for Giving Evidence in a War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Stepakoff, Shanee, G. Shawn Reynolds, Simon Charters, and Nicola Henry. 2014. “Why Testify? Witnesses’ Motivations for Giving Evidence in a War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 8 (3): 426–51. doi:10.1093/ijtj/iju019.

Authors: Shanee Stepakoff, G. Shawn Reynolds, Simon Charters, Nicola Henry

Abstract:

Although witnesses are indispensable to the operation and success of war crimes courts, little is known about their motivations for agreeing to testify. This article advances existing knowledge by drawing on findings from interviews conducted with 200 witnesses after they gave evidence in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Participants were asked to describe their reasons for testifying. Content analysis was used to examine the variety and frequency of responses. Overall, 18 conceptually distinct motivations were mentioned, with most witnesses reporting multiple motivations. The response given most frequently was ‘to denounce wrongs committed against me during the war,’ followed by ‘to contribute to public knowledge about the war.’ Desires for retributive justice (e.g., accountability, punishment), and to fulfill a moral duty to other victims, were each mentioned by approximately one in four witnesses. Other key motivations included establishing the truth and narrating their stories. Motivations differed by gender, age, victimization status, side (prosecution versus defense) and trial. The results support the idea that witnesses value the opportunity to publicly denounce atrocities committed against themselves and others. The findings point to both congruities and incongruities between the aims of witnesses and the goals of war crimes courts. Further, the findings suggest that there may be two broad, overarching aspects of the decision to testify: those that are primarily geared toward helping oneself and those that are primarily geared toward helping others. Pragmatically, the findings can enhance efforts to support witnesses in preparing for and completing their testimonies.

Keywords: prosecutions, Special Court for Sierra Leone, witnesses, theories of testimony

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2014

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