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International Tribunals & Special Courts

Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone


Cullen, Laura C. 2020. "Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone." Journal of International Women's Studies 21 (2): 114-125.

Author: Laura C. Cullen


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

Sexual Violence Against Men in Global Politics


Zalewski, Marysia, Paula Drumond, Elisabeth Prugl, and Maria Stern, eds. 2018. Sexual Violence Against Men in Global Politics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Authors: Marysia Zalewski, Paula Drumond, Elisabeth Prugl, Maria Stern



“Sexual violence against men is an under-theorised and under-noticed topic, though it is becoming increasingly apparent that this form of violence is widespread. Yet despite emerging evidence documenting its incidence, especially in conflict and post-conflict zones, efforts to understand its causes and develop strategies to reduce it are hampered by a dearth of theoretical engagement. One of the reasons that might explain its empirical invisibility and theoretical vacuity is its complicated relationship with sexual violence against women. The latter is evident empirically, theoretically, and politically, but the relationship between these violences conjures a range of complex and controversial questions about the ways they might be different, and why and how these differences matter.

It is the case that sexual violence (when noticed at all) has historically been understood to happen largely, if not only, to women, allegedly because of their gender and their ensuing place in gender orders. This begs important questions regarding the impact of increasing knowledge about sexual violence against men, including the impact on resources, on understandings about, and experiences of masculinity, and whether the idea and practice of gender hierarchy is outdated. This book engages this diverse set of questions and offers fresh analysis on the incidences of sexual violence against men using both new and existing data. Additionally, the authors pay close attention to some of the controversial debates in the context of sexual violence against men, revisiting and asking new questions about the vexed issue of masculinities and related theories of gender hierarchy.

The book will be of great interest to students and scholars of sex, gender, masculinities, corporeality, violence, and global politics, as well as to practitioners and activists.” (Zalewski, Drumond, Prugl, and Stern 2018)

Table of Contents: 

INTRODUCTION - Sexual Violence Against Men in Global Politics

Marysia Zalewski, Paula Drumond, Elisabeth Prügl, and Maria Stern

"Tribulations" – Poem by Nziza D.Harouna


1. Provocations in Debates about Sexual Violence against Men

Marysia Zalewski

2. Battle-Induced Urotrauma, Sexual Violence, and American Servicemen Chris Hendershot

3. Masculinity, Men and Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military

Elizabeth Mesok

4. Languages of Castration – Male Genital Mutilation in Conflict and Its Embedded Messages

Henri Myrttinen

5. Medical Approaches to Sexual Violence in War, in Guidelines and in Practice

Caroline Cottet

6. The Political Economy of Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Armed Conflict

Sara Meger


Reflections on Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Global Politics
Paul Higate and Nivi Manchanda

Homo Interruptus
Paul Kirby

Can Our Intellectual Curiosity on Gender Cause Harm?
Madeline Rees

Gender, Sex and Sexual Violence Against Men
Laura J. Shepherd

Not for the Faint of Heart: Reflections on Rape, Gender, and Conflict
Lara Stemple


7.  Uncovering Men’s Narratives of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Michele Leiby

8. Sex, Violence and Heteronormativity: Re-visiting Performances of Sexual Violence against Men in Former Yugoslavia

Paula Drumond

9. “Only a Fool…" Why Men Don’t Disclose Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in an Age of Global Media

Chris Dolan

10. Masculine Subjectivities in United Nations Discourse on Gender Violence (1970-2015): Perpetrators, Allies, and Victims

Gizeh Becerra

11. Sexual Violence or Torture? The Framing of Sexual Violence against Men in Armed Conflict in Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Reports

Thomas Charman

12. Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against Men and the International Criminal Jurisprudence

Patricia Viseur Sellers and Leo Nwoye


Familiar Stories, the Policing of Knowledge and Other Challenges Ahead
Maria Eriksson Baaz

Reflections on the Slippery Politics of Framing
Harriet Gray

Male Victims: A Blind Spot in Law
Charu Hogg

Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in the Congo
Ilot Muthaka

SGBV Against Men and Boys as a Site of Theoretical and Political Contestation
Jill Steans

"People you May Know" – Poem by Kevin Kantor

Topics: Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against men, Torture, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, Europe, Balkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia

Year: 2018

Skirts as Flags: Transitional Justice, Gender and Everyday Nationalism in Kosovo


Krasniqi, Vjollca, Ivor Sokolic, and Denisa Kostovicova. 2020. "Skirts as Flags: Transitional Justice, Gender and Everyday Nationalism in Kosovo." Nations and Nationalism 26 (2): 461-76.

Authors: Vjollca Krasniqi, Ivor Sokolic, Denisa Kostovicova

Keywords: art, gender, nationalism, transitional justice, Kosovo


"In this article, we bring the perspective of everyday nationalism to the feminist theorizing in the field of transitional justice and investigate gendered dimensions of post‐conflict nation building. Our aim is to understand possibilities for achieving gender‐just peace characterized by the transformation of gender relations, as well as their obstacles. Feminist scholarship has captured complex, contested, and ambiguous dynamics of shifting gender relations in conflict and post‐conflict settings in the everyday domain. Despite increasing understanding of women's agency and its limits, the entrenchment of dominant hierarchical norms at the intersection of gender and the nation remains puzzling. Everyday nationalism directs attention to mundane aspects of nationhood. It also offers a bottom–up perspective on top–down processes of “formal” nationalism and their interplay with everyday constructions of nationhood. The alignment between these bottom–up and top–down processes reveals how national ideologies are legitimized and hierarchical gender relations entrenched. We ask, does the public recognition of wartime sexual violence and women's suffering challenge the norms and habits of masculine nationhood and pave the way for a new start free of patriarchal hierarchies? Or does it entrench a gendered war “metanarrative” (Björkdahl & Mannergren Selimovic, 2015, p. 172) and with it, unequal gender relations? We study a public art installation about wartime sexual violence in Kosovo aimed at tackling the stigma and silence about wartime rape. The analysis is focused on how this artistic practice, as a symbol, discourse, and performance, as well as an intervention in the everyday domain, offers recognition of wartime sexual violence, and how this recognition responds to, or interacts with, existing gendered dynamics of nationhood. Drawing on Malešević (2013, p. 14), we argue that nationalism and nationhood transcend the public/private dichotomy by connecting institutions and organizations, such as public art installations, to everyday microinteractions. We show that the public endorsement of the art project and the acceptance of wartime sexual violence result in the recognition of the war crime but not the victim. Dynamics of everyday nationalism reinforce gender asymmetries and women's marginalization in a nation‐building process even while their suffering is being acknowledged publicly. Twenty years after the war in Kosovo ended, justice for ethnic Albanian women victims of sexual violence is still largely elusive. Their suffering has been sidelined both in international criminal prosecutions as well as in hybrid domestic war crime trials. The recent adoption by Kosovo's parliament of a reparations law for wartime sexual and gender‐based violence marks formal progress. But, its impact on actual redress for this wartime harm has been limited. One of the major obstacles for women coming forward to claim the reparations is the stigma surrounding wartime sexual violence. The stigma is steeped in gendered patriarchal mores playing themselves out in the politics of postwar peacebuilding within the victims' national community, and it pervades everyday life. By focusing on how an artistic intervention can promote justice for victims of wartime rape, we explore an avenue for supporting gender‐just peacebuilding that is an alternative to women's activism, legal responses, and formal gender equality policies. Despite the “context‐specific natures of claims of justice” (Murphy, 2017, p. 6), the case study of Kosovo reflects the typical pattern of gender‐based harm and the challenges of building gender‐just peace after a civil war. Therefore, our findings reveal everyday dynamics of gendering nation building and contribute to the wider understanding of how the redress for wartime sexual violence perpetuates gender‐insensitive peace (Chinkin & Kaldor, 2013). Empirical research in this article draws on a range of sources. These include the analysis of the Thinking of You art installation, published interviews with the artist, reports of domestic and international media outlets (in Albanian and English), a documentary film about the installation with the same title (Mendoj Për Ty|Thinking of You–Documentary), and speeches by former president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga. We first outline feminist perspectives on transitional justice and present the analytical gains of applying an everyday nationalism perspective to the study of gendered construction of nationhood. This is followed by a background section on the war, sexual and gender‐based violence, and postwar stigma in Kosovo, as well as an overview of the art installation. The analysis is organized around three conceptual dimensions of everyday nationalism: symbols, discourse, and performance." (Krasniqi et al 2020, 461-2)

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Reparations, Transitional Justice, War Crimes, Nationalism, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Kosovo

Year: 2020

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal's First Reparation for Gender-Based Crimes


Grey, Rosemary, Yim Sotheary, and Kum Somaly. 2019. "The Khmer Rouge Tribunal's First Reparation for Gender-Based Crimes." Australian Journal of Human Rights 25 (3): 488-97.

Authors: Rosemary Grey, Yim Sotheary, Kum Somaly


The Khmer Rouge’s crimes of forced marriage and sexual violence have been commemorated in a dance production, entitled Pka Sla Krom Angkar. It is one of several artworks that were recognised in 2018 as “reparations” by the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). In this article, researchers from Australia and Cambodia reflect on the production’s significance from multiple perspectives. It is a catalyst for discussing human rights; a tool for promoting psychological healing; and a part of the ECCC’s legal process.

Keywords: ECCC, International Criminal Law, Cambodia, forced marriage, gender-based crimes, reparations

Topics: Gender-Based Violence, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Reparations, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 2019

Sexual Slavery, Enforced Prostitution, and Forced Marriage as Crimes against Humanity during the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66


Pohlman, Annie. 2019. "Sexual Slavery, Enforced Prostitution, and Forced Marriage as Crimes against Humanity during the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66." In The International People's Tribunal for 1965 and the Indonesian Genocide, edited by Saskia E. Wieringa, Jess Melvin, and Annie Pohlman. New York: Routledge.

Author: Annie Pohlman


This chapter examines some of the tensions between conceptualisations of crimes against humanity in contemporary international criminal law and the prosecution of historical cases of this violence. It focuses on how there is growing recognition of the need to distinguish and separate sexual crimes by type, with particular attention paid to the separation of the three closely related but distinct crimes against humanity: sexual enslavement, enforced prostitution, and forced marriage. The chapter provides the Prosecutors of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) for each of these sexually based crimes. It explores the dilemma of applying current-day gender jurisprudence to an historical case of mass violence. Sexual violence was pervasive during both the massacres of 1965-1966 and the mass political detentions that followed the 1 October 1965 coup in Indonesia. In the evidence brief on sexual violence prepared for the Prosecutor at the IPT 1965, a wide range of acts was listed under a group heading of ‘sexual enslavement.’

Topics: Gender, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Indonesia

Year: 2019

Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC


Chertoff, Emily. 2017. “Prosecuting Gender-Based Persecution: the Islamic State at the ICC." Yale Law Journal 126 (4): 1050-117.

Author: Emily Chertoff


Reports suggest that Islamic State, the terrorist "caliphate," has enslaved and brutalized thousands of women from the Yazidi ethnic minority of Syria and Northern Iraq. International criminal law has a name for what Islamic State has done to these women: gender-based persecution. This crime, which appears in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has only been charged once, and unsuccessfully, in the Court's two decades of existence. The case of the Yazidi women presents a promising opportunity to charge it again--and, potentially, to shift the lately unpromising trajectory of the Court, which has been weakened in recent months by a wave of defections by former member states. This Note uses heretofore unexamined jurisprudence of the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber to elaborate--element by element--how the Prosecutor of the Court could charge gender-based persecution against members of Islamic State. I argue that the prosecution of Islamic State would not just vindicate the rights of Yazidi survivors of Islamic State violence. It would help to consolidate an international norm against gender-based persecution in armed conflict--a norm that, until now, international law has only incompletely realized. This Note argues that only by prosecuting the crime of gender-based persecution can international criminal law cognize violence, like the attacks on Yazidi women, that is motivated not just by race, ethnicity, or gender, but by the victims' intersecting gender and ethnic or racial identities. I conclude by reflecting on the role that a series of prosecutions against perpetrators of gender-based persecution might have in restoring the legitimacy of the ailing ICC.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnicity, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Race, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Terrorism, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq, Syria

Year: 2017

Traditional justice and legal pluralism in transitional context: The case of Rwanda's Gacaca Courts


Nagy, Rosemary, "Traditional justice and legal pluralism in transitional context: The case of Rwanda's Gacaca Courts," in Reconciliation(s): Transitional Justice in Postconflict Societies, ed. Joanna R. Quinn (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009).

Author: Rosemary Nagy

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Impunity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2009

Manhood Deprived and (Re)constructed during Conflicts and International Prosecutions: The Curious Case of the Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta et al.


Turan, Gözde. 2016. “Manhood Deprived and (Re)constructed during Conflicts and International Prosecutions: The Curious Case of the Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta et Al.” Feminist Legal Studies 24 (1): 29–47. doi:10.1007/s10691-016-9313-0.

Author: Gözde Turan


Recent case law on sexual violence crimes heard before the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and courts, that interpret them in connection with ethnic conflict, raises the question of which acts can be defined as sexual violence. The International Criminal Court (ICC), in the situation of Kenya, does not regard acts of forced nudity, forcible circumcision and penile amputation as sexual violence when they are motivated by ethnic prejudice and intended to demonstrate the cultural superiority of one tribe over another. The Court argues that not every act of violence that targets parts of the body commonly associated with sexuality should be considered an act of sexual violence. This recent interpretation of what counts as sexual violence provides another example of the complicity of international criminal law institutions in the ongoing construction process of female subordination. The ICC, in the Kenya situation, implicitly confirms the mutilation of female agency by interpreting penile amputation as a kind of power game between males, and by instrumentalizing the male sexual organ as an indicator of masculinity and manhood.

Keywords: sexual violence, international criminal court, intersectionality, Kenya case, masculinity

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, International Criminal Law, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2016

Recognition of Gendered Experiences of Harm at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: The Promise and the Pitfalls


Sankey, Diana. 2016. “Recognition of Gendered Experiences of Harm at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: The Promise and the Pitfalls.” Feminist Legal Studies 24 (1): 7–27. doi:10.1007/s10691-016-9309-9.

Author: Diane Sankey


Forty years after the beginning of the Khmer Rouge regime, the recent Trial Chamber judgment in case 002/01 before Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has provided legal recognition of the devastating violence of the forced population movements. However, despite the undoubted significance of the judgment, it represents a missed opportunity to more fully reflect issues of gender. The article argues that in order to capture the plurality of gendered experiences it is necessary to foreground a social understanding of harm. Drawing on civil party oral testimony, the article begins to surface gendered experiences of the social harms of familial separation and starvation of family members, harms that have often remained silenced in international criminal law. In doing so it seeks to contribute to emerging feminist discourse on broader gendered harms and illustrates the need for further scrutiny of the approach of the ECCC.

Keywords: Gendered harm, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, International Criminal Law, forced displacement

Topics: Forced Migration, Feminisms, Gender-Based Violence, International Criminal Law, International Tribunals & Special Courts

Year: 2016

International Criminal Law as a Site for Enhancing Women’s Rights? Challenges, Possibilities, Strategies


Grewal, Kiran Kaur. 2015. “International Criminal Law as a Site for Enhancing Women’s Rights? Challenges, Possibilities, Strategies.” Feminist Legal Studies 23 (2): 149–65. doi:10.1007/s10691-015-9286-4.

Author: Kiran Kaur Grewal


Many scholars and activists have argued that the International Criminal Court (ICC) holds potential for advancing the rights of women and girls, leading to extensive feminist engagement with and investment in the Court. As the ICC enters its second decade of existence, this article offers a reflection on both the possibilities and the challenges facing feminists. Can the international criminal law really offer a site for enhancing the rights of women? And if so, how? To explore these questions I focus on the interaction between feminist activism and international criminal law institutions in relation to crimes of sexual and gender-based violence. I argue that some of the feminist strategies deployed to get sexual violence onto the international agenda have resulted in perverse outcomes. This should lead us to greater critical reflection regarding how international law conceives of sexual violence and direct our future engagements with international legal institutions. In particular feminist activists and scholars need to move away from focusing on the number of prosecutions towards challenging the international criminal law to characterise the nature of the harm in accordance with a recognition of sexual rights.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence

Year: 2015


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