Female Perpetrators

Gender and War: International and Transitional Justice Perspectives


Jurasz, Olga, and Solange Mouthaan. 2019. Gender and War: International and Transitional Justice Perspectives. Cambridge: Intersentia.

Authors: Solange Mouthaan, Olga Jurasz

Keywords: gender, war, transitional justice, international law, conflict


This book explores and challenges common assumptions about gender, conflict, and post-conflict situations. It critically examines the gendered aspects of international and transitional justice processes by subverting traditional understandings of how wars are waged, the power dynamics involved, and the experiences of victims.The book also highlights the gendered stereotypes that underpin the (mis)perceptions about gender and war in order to reveal the multi-dimensional nature of modern conflicts and their aftermaths.
Featuring contributions from academics in law, criminology, international relations, politics and psychology, as well as legal practitioners in the field, Gender and War offers a unique and multi-disciplinary insight into contemporary understandings of conflict and explores the potential for international and transitional justice processes to evolve in order to better acknowledge diverse and gendered experiences of modern conflicts.
This book provides the reader with international and interdisciplinary perspectives on issues of international law, conflict, gender and transitional justice. (Summary from Intersentia)
Introduction (p.1)
Part I. Women's Involvement in Armed Conflict
              How and Why Women Participate in Armed Conflict (p.9)
​              Female Perpetrators in the Fromer Yugoslav Republic and Rwanda (p. 41)
​              Female War Crime Perpetrators in Bosnia and Herzegovina (p. 65)
Part II. Men and Children's Experiences of Armed Conflict
​              Towards a Gender Analysis of Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Conflict (p. 93)
​              Children and Armed Conflict (p. 119)
Part III. Gendered Expereiences of International Criminal Justice
​              Gender, Enslavement and War Economies in Sierra Leone (p. 145)
​              Male Victims and Female Perpetrators of Sexual Violence in Conflict (p. 169)
​              Prosecuting Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes in the International Criminal Court (p. 209)
​              Reparations for Gendered Harms at the International Criminal Court (p. 235)
Part IV. Gendered Experiences of Transitional Justice
​              Children in Transitional Justice Processes (p. 259)
​              Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Kosovo (p. 285)
​              Staying the Course (p. 311)
Part V. Conclusions
​              Conclusions (p. 353)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict, Economies, War Economies, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, Justice, Transitional Justice, War Crimes, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, SV against Men Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2019

Simone Gbagbo: First Lady of Cote D'Ivoire, First Woman Indicted by the International Criminal Court, One among Many Female Perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity


Zaldivar-Giuffredi, Alessandra M. 2018. "Simone Gbagbo: First Lady of Cote D'Ivoire, First Woman Indicted by the International Criminal Court, One among Many Female Perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity." ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 25 (1): 1-31.

Author: Alessandra M. Zaldivar-Giuffredi


"Prosecutor v. Gbagbo presents us with a certain novelty: a female defendant indicted by the ICC.4 Her indictment may be emblematic of an important shift towards a post-gender model of international criminal justice, a recognition that both women and men are capable of committing atrocities and crimes against humanity—including the perpetration of rape and sexual violence.5 Nevertheless, the supposed “novelty” of this case is predicated on the problematic view of women as inherently peaceful and merely ‘victims’ of war, incapable of independent violent agency.6 Women have long been involved in the commission and perpetration of mass crime.7 An analysis of S. Gbagbo’s case, then, requires questioning her ‘uniqueness’ as a defendant and the role gender may or may not have played in her indictment by the ICC, and considering its implications for international criminal law. Looking past the problematic gender narratives relating to Prosecutor v. Gbagbo, an important issue of complementarity arises.8 In March 2017, S. Gbagbo was acquitted by Ivoirian courts; nevertheless, her indictment by the ICC persists, as the Pre-Trial Chamber found an absence of meaningful domestic proceedings against her.9 Furthermore, even after Cote d’Ivoire challenged this finding on appeal, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the Pre Trial Chamber’s finding on admissibility.10 Thus, we are left to reckon with the relationship between domestic and international investigations: What is the scope of the ICC’s role in ensuring justice, aiding victims, and furthering the internal unification of the affected States?" (Zaldivar-Giuffredi 2018, 1)

Topics: Gender, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Côte D'Ivoire

Year: 2018

'I Acted like a Man’: Exploring Female Ex-Insurgents’ Narratives on Nigeria’s Oil Insurgency


Oriola, Temitope. 2016. “‘I Acted like a Man’: Exploring Female Ex-Insurgents’ Narratives on Nigeria’s Oil Insurgency.” Review of African Political Economy 43 (149): 451–69. doi:10.1080/03056244.2016.1182013.

Author: Temitope Oriola


English Abstract:
This paper explores how a small sample of female ex-insurgents make sense of their engagement in Nigeria’s oil insurgency. The study is informed by three key questions: How did Delta women join the insurgency? Why did they join? How do they frame their participation? The paper analyses the prevalence of a masculinising rhetoric among participants. The majority of participants view their roles in the insurgency as antithetical to their gender. The implications of these findings are explored. Overall, the paper contributes to the growing body of work on women’s engagement in armed conflict as perpetrators rather than victims of violence.
French Abstract:
[« J’ai agi comme un homme » : l’étude des histoires des ex-insurgées sur l’insurrection liée au pétrole au Nigeria.] Cet article examine comment quelques ex-insurgées donnent du sens à leur engagement dans l’insurrection liée au pétrole au Nigéria. Cette étude tente de répondre à trois questions clés : Comment est-ce que les femmes du Delta ont rejoint l’insurrection? Pourquoi l’ont-elles rejoint? Comment est-ce qu’elles formulent leur participation? L’article analyse la prévalence d’une rhétorique masculinisante parmi les participants. La majorité des participants voit son rôle dans l’insurrection comme opposé à son genre. Les implications de ces résultats sont examinées. Dans l’ensemble, l’article contribue à la masse croissante de travail sur l’engagement des femmes dans les conflits armés, où elles sont considérées comme des responsables de la violence plutôt que comme des victimes.

Keywords: Niger Women, women and political violence, oil insurgency, Nigeria

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Female Perpetrators Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2016

Gender Trouble at Abu Ghraib?


Kaufman-Osborn, Timothy. 2005. “Gender Trouble at Abu Ghraib?” Politics & Gender 1 (4): 597-619.

Author: Timothy Kaufman-Osborn


This essay explores the controversy spawned by the release, in April, 2004, of the photo- graphs taken by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Its particular concern is with photographs that depict American servicewomen engaged in various forms of abusive conduct against Iraqi prisoners. In its opening half, the essay examines and criticizes the responses to these photographs offered, first, by right-wing commentators and, second, by American feminists, most notably Barbara Ehrenreich. All read these photographs as a referendum on feminism and, more particularly, its commitment to the cause of gender equality; and all do so, I argue, on the basis of a naive understanding of gender. In its latter half, accordingly, the essay offers a more adequate understanding of gender, one loosely grounded in the work of Judith Butler and the concept of performativity. Referencing various official interrogation manuals, as well as the investigative reports released in the wake of this scandal, the essay employs this concept in offering a more adequate account of the gendered import of the deeds depicted in the Abu Ghraib photographs. It concludes by arguing that what is important about these photographs is neither whether the perpetrators of the exploitation they depict are male or female, nor whether the deeds they portray somehow compromise the feminist quest for gender equality. Rather, what is important are the multiple ways in which specifically gendered practices, which can be detached from the bodies they conventionally regulate, are deployed as elements within a more comprehensive network of technologies aimed at disciplining prisoners and so confirming their status as abject subjects of U.S. military power.

Topics: Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Race, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, SV against Men

Year: 2005

Empire, Desire and Violence: A Queer Transnational Feminist Reading of the Prisoner ‘Abuse’ in Abu Ghraib and the Question of ‘Gender Equality'


Richter-Montpetit, Melanie. 2007. “Empire, Desire and Violence: A Queer Transnational Feminist Reading of the Prisoner ‘Abuse’ in Abu Ghraib and the Question of ‘Gender Equality.’” International Feminist Journal of Politics 9 (1): 38-59.

Author: Melanie Richter-Montpetit


Dominant discourses in the United States paint the acts of prisoner 'abuse' committed by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib in 2003 as either the obscene but exceptional example of some low-ranking soldiers gone mad, or as the direct result of the suspension of the rule of law in the global 'war on terror'. Alternatively, feminist theorist Barbara Ehrenreich suggests that the pictures depicting female soldiers torturing prisoners are both horrifying and a sign of 'gender equality'. This article departs from all three of these positions. I argue that the micro-level violences shown in the Abu Ghraib pictures are neither just aberrations nor a sign of gender equality. Rather they follow a pre-constructed heterosexed, racialized and gendered script that is firmly grounded in the colonial desires and practices of the larger social order and that underpins the hegemonic 'save civilization itself'-fantasy of the 'war on terror'. I explore how the participation of some of the US Empire's internal Others, namely White western women, may disrupt some of the social processes of normalization underpinning this colonial fantasy, but nevertheless serves to re/produce the identity and hegemony of the US Empire and its heterosexed, racialized and classed World (Dis)Order.

Keywords: Abu Ghraib, civilization, colonial, desires, Ehrenreich, empire, fantasy, gender equality, militarized masculinity, orientalism, US, 'Whiteness'

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Race, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, SV against Men, Violence

Year: 2007

Side By Side -- Women, Peace and Security

"Jointly developed by the Australian Government's Australian Civil-Military Centre and UN Women, "Side by Side -- Women, Peace and Security" explores how the international community has and can meet its commitments on women, peace and security. The 30-minute documentary features an introduction by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as interviews with United Nations personnel, peacekeepers, mediators, humanitarian actors, policy makers and survivors of conflict."

Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide


Brown, Sara E. 2014. “Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (3): 448–69. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.788806.

Author: Sara E. Brown


This article explores and analyzes the role of women who exercised agency as perpetrators during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Genocide narratives traditionally cast women as victims, and many women did suffer horrific abuses and become victims of torture in Rwanda. However, this gender-based characterization of women is inaccurate and incomplete. After presenting a multidisciplinary body of literature relevant to female agency during genocide, this article explores three core questions related to female agency during the Rwandan genocide. It discusses how women were mobilized before and during the genocide, the specific actions of women who exercised agency and finally what happened to these women in the aftermath of the genocide. This article is based upon research that was gathered by the author and includes interviews of female perpetrators as well as victims and witnesses of direct violence committed by women. The article asserts that women played an active role in the Rwandan genocide but are often excluded from the dominant narrative. This article also addresses the implications of ignoring female perpetrators of genocide. It suggests that such an oversight may have a detrimental impact on the long-term peace and stability in post-genocide Rwanda.

Keywords: gender studies, genocide, perpetrators, Rwanda, women

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2014

Victimisation of Female Suicide Bombers: The Case of Chechnya


Kemoklidze, Nino. 2009. “Victimisation of Female Suicide Bombers: The Case of Chechnya.” Caucasian Review of International Affairs 3 (2): 181-88.

Author: Nino Kemoklidze


While arguing about why women fight, many believe that these women are yet other victims in the hands of ruthless men, while others emphasize the seriousness of a particular conflict where even women are driven towards taking up arms, seen as a last resort in the eyes of many. Few, if any, confront this ever present “myth” of victimisation of women who choose radical forms of fighting. This paper will challenge this viewpoint and, based on the case of the so-called Black Widows of Chechnya, will argue that women can take up roles other than that of a victim in the battlefields; and that they are capable of fighting for a purpose other than that of a personal tragedy and/or family bereavement.

Keywords: gender, violence, nationalism, female suicide bombers, Chechnya

Topics: Armed Conflict, Secessionist Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Violence Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2009

A Calamity in the Neighborhood: Women’s Participation in the Rwandan Genocide


Adler, Reva N., Cyanne E. Loyle, and Judith Globerman. 2007. “A Calamity in the Neighborhood: Women’s Participation in the Rwandan Genocide." Genocide Studies and Prevention 2 (3): 209-33.

Authors: Reva N. Adler, Cyanne E. Loyle, Judith Globerman


Although public-health-based violence-prevention trials have been successful in a variety of high-risk settings, no study has addressed the prevention of genocide, a form of population-based catastrophic violence. In addition, little is known about women who participate in genocide, including women’s motivations for active participation in hands-on battery, assault, or murder. In order to explain why women assaulted or murdered targeted victims during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, we interviewed ten Rwandan female genocide perpetrators living in prisons and communities in six Rwandan provinces in 2005. Respondents’ narratives reveal two distinct pictures of life in Rwanda, separated by an abrupt transition: Life prior to 6 April 1994 and Life during the 1994 genocide (6 April–15 July 1994). In addition, respondents described four experiential pressures that shaped their choices to participate in the 1994 genocide: (1) a disaster mentality; (2) fear of the new social order; (3) confusion or ambivalence about events on the ground; and (4) consonance and dissonance with gender roles. The unique combination of these factors that motivated each female genocide participant in Rwanda in 1994 would shift and evolve with new situations. These findings may have implications for understanding and preventing catastrophic violence in other high-risk jurisdictions.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Genocide, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2007


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