Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Cullen, Laura C. 2020. "Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone." Journal of International Women's Studies 21 (2): 114-25.

Author: Laura C. Cullen

Abstract:

Women and girls had a specific and gendered experience of the civil war in Sierra Leone. They filled the role of combatants, ‘bush wives’, child soldiers, and sexual slaves. As a result of these roles, women are often described as having dual identities of both perpetrators and victims of violence. This duality resulted in the complex question of how to help these women both reintegrate into society and also address the crimes which they are alleged to have committed during the war. In this paper, I argue that these women and girls should be treated as victims due to the fact that their crimes were committed under coercion. I investigate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, performing a critique of its gendered assumptions and its inability to provide adequate assistance to females coerced into combat. I perform a critical analysis of the formation and efficacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I investigate the Special Court’s treatment of the women and girls who were victims coerced into war and potentially held responsible as if they were perpetrators. In doing so, critical deconstruction of the treatment of these women highlights both the hybrid court’s successes and failures in advocating for these women. Throughout the paper, I explore the question of how the post-conflict reconstruction process should treat women and girls, who are victims but who have discursively been positioned also as perpetrators.

Keywords: female combatants, women combatants, Special Court for Sierra Leone, bush wives, DDR, child soldiers, post-conflict resolutions, international criminal justice, hybrid courts, gendered assumptions in the post-conflict process

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2020

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