Testimony Under Threat: Women’s Voices and the Pursuit of Justice in Post-War Sri Lanka

Citation:

Hoglund, Kristine. 2019. "Testimony Under Threat: Women’s Voices and the Pursuit of Justice in Post-War Sri Lanka." Human Rights Review 20: 361-82.

Author: Kristine Hoglund

Abstract:

This paper foregrounds how women’s public testimony as part of a formal transitional justice initiative is shaped by the particular context in which a commission operate, including the political and security environment. While the literature has engaged with the gendered predicaments of truth commissions after peace agreements and during transitions away from non-democratic rule, the function of such initiatives in more authoritarian and in immediate post-war contexts is generally overlooked. I examine women’s testimonies from Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and contend that pervasive militarization and insecurity, and the conduct of the Commission, influenced the stories that came forth. Women’s testimonies in the war-torn areas primarily represent pleas for information about missing family members and reflect important silences about the women’s own experiences of abuse, including ongoing post-war insecurities. The analysis raises questions about what may be expected from transitional justice efforts in difficult post-war contexts.

Keywords: gender, Sri Lanka, public testimony, LLRC, human rights, transitional justice

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Security Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2019

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