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South Asia

Gendered, Racialized and Sexualized Torture at Abu-Ghraib


Nusair, Isis. 2008. “Gendered, Racialized And Sexualized Torture At Abu-Ghraib,” In Feminism and Wars: Confronting US Imperialism, edited by Mohanty and Riley, 179-93. London: Zed Books.

Author: Isis Nusair


This chapter examines the gendered, racialized and sexualized torture at Abu-Ghraib within the larger context of the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and torture and mistreatment of detainees in other parts of Iraq; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Afghanistan. [Nusair] argue[s] that what took place at Abu-Ghraib is not an exceptional and isolated case perpetrated by few bad apples but part of an Orientalist representation that aims to shame and sexually humiliate detainees and reinforce their difference as racially inferior Others. Within this phallocentric binary logic of opposition where the East is represented as backward and barbarian and the West as civilizing and modernizing the naturalness and for-granted authority to dominate the Other is established. It is within this framework that [Nusair] analyze[s] the connection between militarist hyper-sexuality, feminization, and racialization at Abu-Ghraib. In addition, [Nusair] analyze[s] the silence around the rape of women at Abu-Ghraib, and the unveiling and stripping naked of detainees as they relate to the larger system of domination currently at play in Iraq. [Nusair] conclude[s] by analyzing current modes of feminist resistance in Iraq and the strategies used by activists to shape their lives within this highly masculinized and militarized system of control. 

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarism, Militarization, Race, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexuality, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: MENA, Americas, Caribbean countries, North America, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Cuba, Iraq, United States of America

Year: 2008

Creating Citizens Who Demand Just Governance: Gender and Development in the Twenty-first Century


Mukhopadhyay, Maitrayee. 2003. “Creating Citizens Who Demand Just Governance: Gender and Development in the Twenty-first Century.” Gender & Development 11 (3): 45-56.

Author: Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay


The issue of good governance assumed enormous significance in debates on global development in the 1990s. By and large, this translated into policies aimed at building accountability of public administration institutions to the broad 'public', but omitted to consider two key issues: first, the 'public' consists of women and men, who have gender-differentiated needs and interests; second, civil-society institutions have a role to play in creating the demand for democratic, accountable, and just governance. To address these omissions, and to reinforce the importance of bringing a gender perspective to global debates and approaches to international development, KIT Gender, at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, initiated a three-year programme in 1999. It is entitled 'Gender, Citizenship, and Governance'. This article discusses the programme and its relevance to international development, and provides three case studies from the programme; from India, Bangladesh, and South Africa.

Topics: Citizenship, Civil Society, Development, Gender, Women, Governance Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Bangladesh, India, South Africa

Year: 2003

A Great Leveler: Sri Lanka’s Factions Deal with the Tsunami


Jeffrey, Paul. 2005. “A Great Leveler: Sri Lanka’s Factions Deal with the Tsunami.” Christian Century 122 (3): 8-10.

Author: Paul Jeffrey


Deals with the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami on the social and political tensions in Sri Lanka on December 26, 2004. Result of the civil war in the nation which was caused by ethnic strains between Sinhalese and Tamils; Interest of Buddhists in making the country an officially Buddhist state and to criminally punish religious conversions; Efforts of various Sri Lankan ethnic and religious groups to provide aid to the victims of the disaster. (EBSCO)

Topics: Environmental Disasters, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2005

Constitutional Engineering: What Opportunities for the Enhancement of Gender Rights?


Waylen, Georgina. 2006. “Constitutional Engineering: What Opportunities for the Enhancement of Gender Rights?” Third World Quarterly 27 (7): 1209–21.

Author: Georgina Waylen


The majority of feminist scholars have neglected the impact of constitutional design to date. But it has recently come to the fore, as institutional engineering has been a key part of the efforts to ‘build democracy after conflict’ (or impose it from the outside), most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. This paper will examine some contrasting experiences of constitutional design (with evidence drawn primarily from some transitions to democracy) and draw out some wider lessons for feminists exploring effective strategies to enhance gender rights. It will also widen the debate from the institutional concerns that have predominated to date, namely quotas as a mechanism to enhance women's descriptive representation and, to a lesser extent, national women's machineries as a mechanism to enhance women's substantive representation. It will focus more broadly on the opportunities that constitutional design can provide to embed women's rights more securely and create an enabling framework that can subsequently be used toenhance all forms of women's rights, not just civil and political ones.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Governance, Constitutions, Quotas, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2006

Caution Nation-builders: Gender Assumptions Ahead


Benard, Cheryl. 2008. “Caution Nation-builders: Gender Assumptions Ahead.” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 32 (1): 25-37.

Author: Cheryl Benard


The article presents a series of recommendations based on a case study of post-Taliban Afghanistan in order to examine the issue of gender as it relates to post-conflict stabilization and nation-building. The recommendations include: taking the concept of human security seriously; increasing access to nontraditional roles while also strengthening women's capacity to earn a livelihood through the monetization of traditional activities; building reliance on civil society; and improving data collection and assessment strategies for measuring women's baseline situation and for gauging the effectiveness of programs in post-conflict interventions. (ResearchGate)

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Human Security Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2008

A "Quick and Dirty" Approach to Women’s Emancipation and Human Rights?


Kouvo, Sari. 2008. “A ‘Quick and Dirty’ Approach to Women’s Emancipation and Human Rights?” Feminist Legal Studies 16 (1): 37–46.

Author: Sari Kouvo


During the past decade, women’s and human rights ‘language’ has moved from the margins to the ‘mainstream’ of international law and politics. In this paper, the author argues that while feminists and human rights activists criticise the ‘mainstream’s interpretation of women’s and human rights, ‘we’ do not question what becoming part of the mainstream and the cosmopolitan classes has meant for us. Drawing on examples of how women’s and human rights arguments have been used in the post-conflict state-building process in Afghanistan, the author attempts to show how international women’s rights and human rights advocacy campaigns planned by well-meaning humanitarians in Western capitals can backfire when implemented in politically complex environments.

Keywords: advocacy, Afghanistan, Afghan women, feminism, human rights, international feminist movement, international law

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, International Law, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2008

NGOs, Gender Mainstreaming, and Urban Poor Communities in Mumbai


Vandana, Desai. 2005. "NGOs, Gender Mainstreaming, and Urban Poor Communities in Mumbai." Gender and Development 13 (2): 90-8.

Author: Desai Vandana


This article focuses on gender mainstreaming in small grassroots NGOs in the Indian city of Mumbai. It identifies some of the gaps in activities and challenges that these organisations face, and explores the links between gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment. NGOs working at community level can play an important role in supporting women to challenge customs, ideas, and beliefs which perpetuate unequal gender relations. This role of NGOs becomes particularly challenging in a context of rapid social and cultural change, such as Mumbai. The article argues that despite commitments to gender mainstreaming, NGOs have insufficient understanding that they can facilitate the process of empowerment of women in such a context.

Keywords: gender mainstreaming, NGO, empowerment

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, NGOs Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2005

Rape and Rape Avoidance in Ethno-National Conflicts: Sexual Violence in Liminalized States


Hayden, Robert M. 2000. “Rape and Rape Avoidance in Ethno-National Conflicts: Sexual Violence in Liminalized States.” American Anthropologist 102 (1): 27–41.

Author: Robert M. Hayden


Mass rape is a common but not universal occurrence in ethnic or nationalist conflicts. Using South Asian and Bosnian data, in this article I argue that mass rape is likely when such conflicts take place during the partition of a territory and its population, when the state itself is liminal, both its territory and control over it uncertain. In conflicts in which the state is not itself threatened, and thus groups feel that they will continue to coexist, there is some evidence that rape is avoided, even when murder is accepted. However, such instances of rape avoidance are largely unstudied, in large part because of the focus on the violence of mass rape. Further, this focus on violence tends toward classifying all sexual relations between groups whose members have participated in mass rape as improper, thus depriving women who may not wish to rejoin their natal groups of agency.

Keywords: rape, genocide, violence, India, Yugoslavia/Bosnia

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Asia, South Asia, Europe, Balkans Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, India

Year: 2000

Promoting a Gender-Just Peace: The Roles of Women Teachers in Peacebuilding and Reconstruction


Kirk, Jackie. 2004. “Promoting a Gender-Just Peace: The Roles of Women Teachers in Peacebuilding and Reconstruction.” Gender & Development 12 (3): 50–9.

Author: Jackie Kirk


Schools - however temporary and improvised they may be - are often among the first community organisations to start functioning after a crisis. It is important that they set a high standard in encouraging the active participation of women in reconstruction and peacebuilding after conflict. This article examines the potential of women teachers for significant participation in building a gender-just peace, and the challenges that exist for women to fulfil this potential. Drawing on examples from a number of different contexts, especially Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and south Sudan, it discusses women teachers' personal and professional development. It identifies some of the challenges faced by women in becoming teachers, and strategies to support women teachers to become agents of change in their societies.

Topics: Development, Education, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, East Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan

Year: 2004

"As Nearly as May Be": Debating Women’s Human Rights in Pakistan


Mullally, Siobhán. 2005. “‘As Nearly as May Be’: Debating Women’s Human Rights in Pakistan.” Social & Legal Studies 14 (3): 341–58.

Author: Siobhán Mullally


Tensions between the constitutional commitment to equality and the politicization of Islam create conflicting claims for Pakistan’s legal system. These claims have focused, in particular, on the sphere of intimate domestic and sexual relationships. Although the fundamental rights chapter of the Constitution guarantees equality before the law, the pursuit of gender equality has frequently been sacrificed to religious-cultural claims defining and limiting women’s status. Yielding to such claims has served the interests of nation-building while at the same time guarding against any serious threat to the modernizing agendas of Pakistan’s political élite. Lost within such compromises is the recognition of women as bearers of rights, with equal rights to participate in the definition of religious-cultural norms. Lost also is a recognition of difference. Feminists, Islamic reformists and secularists have all been marginalized and excluded from a state that claims to guarantee equality to all. This article examines the strategies pursued by feminist movements within Pakistan and within the legal profession in attempting to resist the demands of conservative Islamist movements.

Keywords: cultural relativism, feminism, Islam, Pakistan, religion, women

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Pakistan

Year: 2005


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