South Africa

Questionable Associations: The Role of Forgiveness in Transitional Justice


Saunders, Rebecca. 2011. “Questionable Associations: The Role of Forgiveness in Transitional Justice.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (1): 119–41. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr003.

Author: Rebecca Saunders


Forgiveness has gained surprising prominence in transitional justice circles due, in part, to the impact of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, advocacy of forgiveness by educational and social psychologists and critiques of retributive justice in critical legal studies. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, legal theory and records of transitional justice in situ, this article argues that while advocates claim significant personal and social benefits derive from forgiveness, transitional justice should not consider forgiveness an a priori good or as commensurate with either reconciliation or peacebuilding. Before advocating forgiveness as a form of personal healing or social reconciliation, artisans of transitional justice mechanisms should consider that the repression of anger or resentment may be psychologically harmful and that perceived pressure to forgive may cause significant psychic distress. They should carefully consider the ways in which rhetoric or practices of forgiveness may facilitate perpetrators’ ability to do harm, teach victims to make peace with their oppression and reinforce structures of inequality.

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2011

The End of Queer (as We Knew It): Globalization and the Making of a Gay-Friendly South Africa


Oswin, Natalie. 2007. “The End of Queer (as We Knew It): Globalization and the Making of a Gay-Friendly South Africa.” Gender, Place & Culture 14 (1): 93–110. doi:10.1080/09663690601122358.

Author: Natalie Oswin


In J. K. Gibson-Graham's The End of Capitalism (as we knew it), the authors (Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson) provocatively deploy queer theory to further their project of telling non-capitalist stories of globalization. In short, they reject the narrative that globalization is always and only penetrative in the hope that global capital will ‘lose its erection’ and ‘other openings’ in the body of capitalism can be considered. I adopt their strategy of looking at stories of globalization. But, while they are concerned with the homophobia of economic theorizing, I consider the gay-friendly discourse of post-apartheid South Africa. Recent expressions of official tolerance by various nation-states around the globe have been dismissed as the mere appropriation of difference by hegemonic forces. Against such interpretations, I look at the ways in which the inclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ in post-apartheid South Africa's constitutional Equality Clause can instead be read as a queer globalization. Based on this reading, I problematize the presumption that queer globalizations take place beyond the realm of the hegemonic and point to the need for queer theorists to think through the political ramifications of homosexuality's repositioning as saviour rather than scapegoat of certain nation-states.

Keywords: globalization, queer theory, South Africa, post-apartheid, homosexuality

Topics: Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gendered Discourses, Globalization, Governance, Constitutions, LGBTQ, Post-Conflict, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2007

Defying Victimhood: Women and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding


Schnabel, Albrecht and Amara Tabyshalieva, eds. 2012. Defying Victimhood: Women and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Tokyo and New York: United Nations University Press.

Authors: Amara Tabyshalieva, Albrecht Schnabel


Women are among the most competent, yet marginalized, unnoticed and underutilized actors in efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. Opportunities for sustainable peacebuilding are lost - and sustainable peace is at risk - when significant stakeholders in a society's future peace and conflict architecture are excluded from efforts to heal the wounds of war and build a new society and a new state. The contributors to this book draw on comparative case and country studies from post-conflict contexts in different parts of world to offer their insights into frameworks for understanding women as both victims and peacebuilders, to trace the road that women take from victimhood to empowerment and to highlight the essential partnerships between women and children and how they contribute to peace. The authors examine the roles of women in political and security institutions.



1 Forgone opportunities: The marginalization of women’s contributions to post-conflict peacebuilding; Albrecht Schnabel and Anara Tabyshalieva

2 Frameworks for understanding women as victims and peacebuilders; Lisa Schirch

Part I: From victimhood to empowerment: Patterns and changes

3 Mass crimes and resilience of women: A cross-national perspective;  Krishna Kumar

4 Victimization, empowerment and the impact of UN peacekeeping missions on women and children: Lessons from Cambodia and Timor-Leste; Sumie Nakaya

5 Frontline peacebuilding: Women’s reconstruction initiatives in Burundi;  Rose M. Kadende-Kaiser

Part II: Women and children: Essential partnership of survival and peace.

6 Women and children in the post-Cold War Balkans: Concerns and responses; Constantine P. Danopoulos, Konstantinos S. Skandalis and Zlatko Isakovic

7 Emerging from poverty as champions of change: Women and children in post-war Tajikistan; Svetlana Sharipova and Hermine De Soto

8 Young mothers as agents of peacebuilding: Lessons from an early childcare and development project in Macedonia; Deborah Davis

Part III: Putting good intentions into practice: National and global efforts to right past wrongs.

9 Gender and transitional justice: Experiences from South Africa, Rwanda and Sierra Leone; Lyn S. Graybill

10 Empowering women to promote peace and security: From the global to the local – Securing and implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325; Ancil Adrian-Paul

Part IV: Deconstructing victimhood: Women in political and security institutions.

11 State-building or survival in conflict and post-conflict situations? A peacebuilding perspective on Palestinian women’s contributions to ending the Israeli occupation;  Vanessa Farr

12 Women’s participation in political decision-making and recovery processes in post-conflict Lebanon; Kari H. Karamé

13 Combating stereotypes: Female security personnel in post-conflict contexts; Kristin Valasek


14 Defying victimhood: Women as activists and peacebuilders; Anara Tabyshalieva and Albrecht Schnabel

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Political Economies, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Oceania Countries: Burundi, Lebanon, Macedonia, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste

Year: 2012

Political Transition and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: A Comparative Analysis


Thomas, Kylie, Masheti Masinjila, and Eunice Bere. 2013. “Political Transition and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: A Comparative Analysis.” Gender & Development 21 (3): 519–32. 

Authors: Kylie Thomas, Masheti Masinjila, Eunice Bere


This article draws on research conducted in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe that focused on violence in the context of political transition. The paper examines the relation between political transition and sexual and gender-based violence in the three countries. The paper argues that it is critical to recognise sexual and gender-based violence as bound to systemic gendered inequality if such forms of violence are to be addressed and mitigated when periods of violent conflict end.

Keywords: political transition, sexual and gender-based violence, patriarchy, rape, colonial oppression, structural violence, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, post-election violence

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Year: 2013

Married to the ANC: Tanzanian Women's Entanglement in South Africa's Liberation Struggle


Lissoni, Arianna, and Maria Suriano. 2014. “Married to the ANC: Tanzanian Women’s Entanglement in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle.” Journal of Southern African Studies 40 (1): 129–50. doi:10.1080/03057070.2014.886476.

Authors: Arianna Lissoni, Maria Suriano


The end of apartheid has opened up new research possibilities into the history of the African National Congress (ANC). Yet the scholarship on the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), remains largely restricted to questions of strategic, political and military effectiveness. The transnational character of the anti-apartheid struggle is mostly absent from nationalist historiographies, while little is known about the daily lives of those who made up the ranks of MK, their interactions with host communities, and the implications of having a large, predominantly male army – with their feelings, longings and frustrations – stationed outside South Africa's borders for three decades. Morogoro, a small upcountry town in Tanzania, was one of the key sites where relations between South African exiles and Tanzanians were forged. In the early years of exile, relationships between ANC/MK cadres and Tanzanian women were not officially sanctioned by the movement, but from the late 1970s they were increasingly formalised through marriage. In this way, the lives of many Tanzanian women became entangled with the South African liberation struggle. Relationships and marriages between South African exiles and Tanzanian women were not only a significant aspect of everyday life in exile, but also key components of an ANC familyhood, linked in turn to expressions of masculinity in MK and to the making of a national community and imaginary. This article seeks to illustrate the complex implications and present repercussions of these marriages and relationships by tracing the lives of seven Tanzanian women, which reveal a multiplicity of personal and emotional entanglements that are obscured by a narrow focus on military and strategic objectives.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa, Tanzania

Year: 2014

The Experiences of Male Intimate Partners of Female Rape Victims from Cape Town, South Africa


van Wijk, E. 2012. “The Experiences of Male Intimate Partners of Female Rape Victims from Cape Town, South Africa.” In Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: International Law, Local Responses. Sterling: Kumarian Press.

Author: E. van Wijk

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2012

Militarised Minds: The Lives of Ex-Combatants in South Africa


Maringira, Godfrey. 2015. “Militarised Minds: The Lives of Ex-Combatants in South Africa.” Sociology 49 (1): 72–87. 

Author: Godfrey Maringira


This article focuses on how ex-combatants in South Africa remain militarised. Identities which were forged through resistance continue to be reproduced in different ways in post-conflict society. Military identity is a source of status and recognition in the everyday lives of ex-combatants, either as 'defenders of the community' or for individual gain. While some may argue that there is no such thing as military identity, the group of ex-combatants interviewed remained attached to such an identity and saw themselves as having a particular role in their communities. While studies, particularly in Africa, present ex-combatants as if they can be easily transformed into civilian life, this article considers the difficulties of such a process. The argument is that it is a complex matter to demilitarise ex-combatant minds in a highly unequal and militarised community. Sixteen life history interviews were collected, 11 with APLA ex combatants and five with Zimbabwean army deserters.

Keywords: demilitarization, deserters, ex-combatants, military identity, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2015

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: International Law, Local Responses


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


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

Narratives and Testimonies of Women Detainees in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle


Hiralal, Kalpana. 2015. “Narratives and Testimonies of Women Detainees in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 29 (4): 34–44. doi:10.1080/10130950.2015.1104883.

Author: Kalpana Hiralal


South Africa's road to democracy was a product of the contributions of both men and women in the freedom struggle. Thousands of women risked their lives and sacrificed their families. In the post-apartheid era the narratives of the nationalist struggle have largely focused on popular and well known men and women, their experiences in exile and their role in the African National Congress (ANC) which led to the under-ground movement. This article seeks to document the lived experiences of women inmates and detainees in the liberation struggle, whose stories have remained in the shadows of dominant nationalist narratives. Thousands of women were arrested, subjected to naked body searches, torture, verbal abuse and sexual harassment. Women experienced both physical and psychological humiliation. This article argues that prison, despite being a "site of humiliation", repression, and subversion, also became a "site of female community and resistance" (Thapar-Bjorkert, 2006:12,25) and that women political prisoners were capable of challenging and negotiating their incarceration. This study challenges dominant narratives of the nationalist struggle by making women inmates and detainees crucial historical subjects and introduces the prison as another terrain of political struggle, resistance, confrontation, and negotiation in the telling of the liberation struggle.

Keywords: gender, prison, apartheid, Narratives, women detainees

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Race, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2015

Embroidery as narrative: Black South African women's experiences of suffering and healing


Segalo, Puleng. 2014. “Embroidery as Narrative: Black South African Women’s Experiences of Suffering and Healing.” Agenda: Empowering Women
for Gender Equity 28 (1): 44–53. doi:10.1080/10130950.2014.872831.


Author: Puleng Segalo


There are stories that many people who have experienced a traumatic and oppressive past carry with them, stories that continue to remain untold. In a country such as South Africa, where ‘empowerment’ and ‘equality’ are the order of the day, it becomes crucial to acknowledge people's lived experiences and how these relate to the changes taking place. Drawing from an empirical study I conducted in Gauteng, South Africa, this article interrogates how Black women's private memories of the conflict/apartheid period influence how they make sense of their new-found freedom. It explores how these women use artistic forms such as embroideries to re-stitch their lives, create personal life stories, and make connections between the past and the present.I highlight how the women's narratives demonstrate the importance of acknowledging the intersection of gender, history, and politics when talking about people's experiences. I point to the significance of revisiting history in order to make sense of the present, and show how freedom should be understood within its historical context. The interweaving of the women's experiences highlights the collectiveness of suffering, and their narratives may be perceived as echoes of both collective and individual suffering, and healing. The embroideries they produced externalise their embodied experience, and allow for the weaving in of multiple life experiences. I conclude by discussing how through creating personal embroideries the women draw attention to the inequalities they continuously have to contend with in their everyday lives.

Keywords: embroidery, suffering, healing, memory, Narratives

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Discourses, Post-Conflict, Race Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2014


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