Cleansing the Caliphate: Insurgent Violence against Sexual Minorities


Tschantret, Joshua. 2018. "Cleansing the Caliphate: Insurgent Violence against Sexual Minorities." International Studies Quarterly 62 (2): 260-73.

Author: Joshua Tschantret


Why do insurgents target certain groups for extermination? Despite a great deal of attention to the targeting of civilian ethnic minorities, comparatively little scholarship exists on insurgent violence against sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual individuals). This article maintains that the decision to target sexual minorities follows three distinct logics: two strategic and one ideological. First, insurgents face an incentive to outbid rivals by targeting sexual minorities when homophobic violence is politically and socially legitimated. Second, territorial control creates an incentive for insurgents to signal their ability to selectively punish, which they can accomplish through homophobic violence. Third, revolutionary ideologies provide legitimation for exclusionary violence in the pursuit of transforming society. Statistical analysis of insurgent violence against sexual minorities from 1985 to 2015 lends strong support for these arguments. Process tracing of the spread of violence against sexual minorities in Iraq and Syria clarifies the strategic causal mechanisms. When progovernment militias targeted perceived homosexuals with impunity, antigay violence was adopted by insurgent groups seeking to legitimize their claims to power; violence then quickly spread to competing insurgents. Two additional cases from Latin America demonstrate that ideology plays an important role in influencing which groups embrace homophobic violence even under these strategic constraints.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Conflict, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Sexuality, Violence Regions: MENA, Americas, South America, Asia, Middle East Countries: Colombia, Iraq, Peru, Syria

Year: 2018

Mainstreaming Gender in European Union Transitional Justice Policy: Towards a Transformative Approach?


de Almagro, Maria Martin. 2019. "Mainstreaming Gender in European Union Transitional Justice Policy: Towards a Transformative Approach?" In Gender Roles in Peace and Security, edited by Manuela Scheuermann and Anja Zurn, 149-64. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Author: Maria Martin de Almagro


The European Parliament awarded its prestigious Sakharov Prize in October 2016 to two Iraqi Yazidi women who were held as sex slaves by Islamic State militias. Some months before, the ICC issued its landmark conviction of Jean Pierre Bemba for his responsibility as commander-in-chief for sexual and gender-based violence carried out by his troops in the Central African Republic in May 2016. Both events are evidence of the increasing awareness at the EU, and internationally, of the need to amplify women’s experiences of violence and their claims to justice. In Guatemala, for example, a court recently convicted two former military officers of crimes against humanity for having enslaved, raped and sexually abused 11 indigenous Q’eqchi’ women at the Sepur Zarco military base during the armed conflict in Guatemala.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Organizations, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Central Africa, Americas, Central America, Asia, Middle East, Europe Countries: Central African Republic, Guatemala, Iraq

Year: 2019

The (Little) Militia Man: Memory and Militarized Masculinity in Lebanon


Haugbolle, Sune. 2012. “The (Little) Militia Man: Memory and Militarized Masculinity in Lebanon.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 8 (1): 115–39.

Author: Sune Haugbolle


This article discusses how militiamen who fought in the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) have been represented in Lebanese cultural production and how these militiamen relate to public discourse on masculinity and culpability in the postwar period. Through an analysis of interviews with former militiamen from the Lebanese press, an autobiographical novel, and a play about the war, this paper examines the link between debates about memory and responsibility on one hand, and contentions over norms of masculine behavior on the other. The texts suggest that some Lebanese artists privilege a redemptive narrative, where former fighters are shown as regretful, even feminized, “little men” on par with other human victims of a senseless war. This narrative is meant to counter the widely held notion in Lebanon that militiamen bear a large part of the responsibility for the war. At the same time, this redemptive narrative seeks to sever the link between masculinity and sectarian cultures that, still today, celebrate violence committed during the civil war.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Post-Conflict, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon

Year: 2012

Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas


Speed, Shannon, Castillo Hernandez, Aída Rosalva and Lynn Stephen. 2006. Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas. Austin, US: University of Texas Press.

Authors: Shannon Speed, Castillo Hernandez, Aída Rosalva , Lynn Stephen


Presents a diverse collection of voices exploring the human rights and gender issues that gained international attention after the first public appearance of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in 1994. This book examines the achievements of and challenges facing women participating in the Zapatista movement. (Summary from WorldCat)


Preface: Indigenous Organizing and the EZLN in the Context of Neoliberalism in Mexico Lynn M. Stephen and Shannon Speed and R. Aida Hernandez Castillo


Section 1. Key Women's Documents 

  1. Women's Revolutionary Law
  2. Women's Rights in Our Traditions and Customs
  3. Comandanta Esther: Speech before the Mexican Congress
  4. International Day of the Rebel Woman
  5. Introduction R. Aida Hernandez Castillo and Lynn M. Stephen and Shannon Speed 

Section 2 Indigenous Women's Organizing in Chiapas and Mexico: Historical Trajectories, Border Crossings

  1. Chapter 1 Between Feminist Ethnocentricity and Ethnic Essentialism: The Zapatistas' Demands and the National Indigenous Women's Movement R. Aida Hernandez Castillo
  2. Chapter 2 Indigenous Women and Zapatismo: New Horizons of Visibility Margara Millan Moncayo
  3. Chapter 3 Gender and Stereotypes in the Social Movements of Chiapas Sonia Toledo Tello and Anna Maria Garza Caligaris
  4. Chapter 4 Weaving in the Spaces: Indigenous Women's Organizing and the Politics of Scale in Mexico Maylei Blackwell

Section 3 Rights and Gender in Ethnographic Context

  1. Chapter 5 Indigenous Women's Activism in Oaxaca and Chiapas Lynn M. Stephen
  2. Chapter 6 Autonomy and a Handful of Herbs: Contesting Gender and Ethnic Identities through Healing Melissa M. Forbis
  3. Chapter 7 Rights at the Intersection: Gender and Ethnicity in Neoliberal Mexico Shannon Speed
  4. Chapter 8 "We Can No Longer Be Like Hens with Our Heads Bowed, We Must Raise Our Heads and Look Ahead": A Consideration of the Daily Life of Zapatista Women Violeta Zylberberg Panebianco

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Tribe, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2006

Where Women Rebel: Patterns of Women’s Participation in Armed Rebel Groups 1990-2008


Henshaw, Alexis Leanna. 2016. Where Women Rebel: Patterns of Women’s Participation in Armed Rebel Groups 1990-2008.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 18 (1): 39–60. doi:10.1080/14616742.2015.1007729.

Author: Alexis Leanna Henshaw


While a significant literature on women's participation in armed rebel groups exists, much of this work is focused on individual cases or regional comparisons among movements. This has led to a lack of cross-national work on women in insurgencies, and a limited understanding of the extent to which women are engaged in civil conflict internationally. This article introduces new data on women's involvement in seventy-two insurgencies active since 1990, and assesses the validity of several assumptions about women and rebellion drawn from existing literature on women in conflict and on civil wars generally. I show that women are active in rebel groups much more often than current scholarship acknowledges. This involvement includes frequent service in combat and leadership roles, where male participants are often presumed to be the default. Finally, while forced recruitment tactics are frequently used to bring women into service, much of their participation appears to be voluntary in nature.

Keywords: gender, civil conflict, terrorism, insurgency

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militias, Paramilitaries, Non-State Armed Groups, Terrorism

Year: 2016

On Living with Negative Peace and a Half-Built State: Gender and Human Rights


Azarbaijani-Moghaddam, Sippi. 2007. “On Living with Negative Peace and a Half-Built State: Gender and Human Rights.” International Peacekeeping 14 (1): 127–42. doi:10.1080/13533310601114335.

Author: Sippi Azarbaijani-Moghaddam


This article examines the double standards associated with a precarious international peacebuilding strategy in Afghanistan based on impunity and half-truths rather than accountability and transitional justice. Many international organizations have turned a blind eye to past and current human rights atrocities through forms of rationalization based on an empowerment of cultural differences, relativization of progress and ‘policy reductionism’. Consequently, and in the absence of consistently applied rights instruments, societal divisions along gender, ethnic and other lines have intensified Afghanistan’s culture of intolerance to human rights, thereby violating the very principles the international community purports to uphold. Drawing on first-hand experiences, personal interviews and a sober analysis of trends, this article challenges some of the conventional assumptions held about the perception and knowledge of human rights among Afghans. It concludes by identifying possible areas of future study to better understand both the prospects for transitional justice and how ordinary Afghans continue to cope with widespread injustice and inequality.


Topics: Armed Conflict, Occupation, Civil Society, Corruption, Ethnicity, Gender, International Organizations, Justice, Impunity, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Paramilitaries, Peacebuilding, Rights, Human Rights, Violence Regions: Asia, Middle East Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2007

Americanness, Masculinity, and Whiteness: How Michigan Militia Men Navigate Evolving Social Norms


Cooter, Amy. 2013. "Americanness, Masculinity, and Whiteness: How Michigan Militia Men Navigate Evolving Social Norms." PhD. Diss. University of Michigan. 

Author: Amy Cooter


This dissertation is based on three years of ethnographic fieldwork and 40 indepth interviews with members of the Michigan militia. Militia members are mostly white men who believe in an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. Armed with rifles, they practice paramilitary exercises and protest various government actions. Militia members see themselves as "super citizens" who embody national ideals of freedom and equality even as they face public criticism as being violent, socially regressive, and racist. My dissertation examines how members respond to changing ideas about equality and inclusion while belonging to a group that lauds a mythic vision of the nation where white men had exclusive social power. I find that most militia members genuinely try to be egalitarian, and the ways in which they fail are instructive regarding white men's conceptualizations of other groups. I argue that an idealized national identity, strongly influenced by mythical stories of the country's founding, shapes members' responses to a variety of issues. Specifically, I find that members use the militia space to test and expand constructions of what it means to be a man in contemporary U.S. society even as they reference themes of a traditional, hegemonic masculinity when explaining their militia participation. Regarding race, militia members tend to be accepting of African Americans, but make very little effort to accept Muslim Americans. I argue that members have largely integrated anti-racist norms about African Americans, but they fear physical harm and change to an idealized national identity from Muslims as a result of past violence and attendant political change. Militia members' relationship to authority, primarily embodied by law enforcement actors is similarly complex. Members are likely to comply with authoritative actions they understand to be legitimate and in accordance with Constitutional principles and defy those actions they understand to be illegitimate. This work challenges current understandings of masculinity and whiteness, particularly among lower-middle class, American men as it shows that men who strongly value a mythical American identity that is premised on the social power of white men nonetheless consciously grapple with issues of gendered and raced equality.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Non-State Armed Groups, Race, Religion, Rights, Violence, Weapons /Arms Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2013

Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo


Peterman, Amber, Tia Palermo, and Caryn Bredenkamp. 2011. “Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” American Journal of Public Health 101 (6): 1060-67.

Authors: Amber Peterman, Tia Palermo, Caryn Bredenkamp


Objectives. We sought to provide data-based estimates of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and describe risk factors for such violence.

Methods. We used nationally representative household survey data from 3436 women selected to answer the domestic violence module who took part in the 2007 DRC Demographic and Health Survey along with population estimates to estimate levels of sexual violence. We used multivariate logistic regression to analyze correlates of sexual violence.

Results. Approximately 1.69 to 1.80 million women reported having been raped in their lifetime (with 407 397–433 785 women reporting having been raped in the preceding 12 months), and approximately 3.07 to 3.37 million women reported experiencing intimate partner sexual violence. Reports of sexual violence were largely independent of individual-level background factors. However, compared with women in Kinshasa, women in Nord-Kivu were significantly more likely to report all types of sexual violence.

Conclusions. Not only is sexual violence more generalized than previously thought, but our findings suggest that future policies and programs should focus on abuse within families and eliminate the acceptance of and impunity surrounding sexual violence nationwide while also maintaining and enhancing efforts to stop militias from perpetrating rape.

Topics: Domestic Violence, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militias, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011

“We’ll Kill You If You Cry”: Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict


Taylor, Louise. 2003. “We’ll Kill You If You Cry”: Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Author: Louise Taylor


The 75-page report, “'We’ll Kill You If You Cry:' Sexual Violence in the  Sierra Leone Conflict,” presents evidence of horrific abuses against women and girls in every region of the country by the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), as well as other rebel, government and international peacekeeping forces. The Human Rights Watch report, which is based on hundreds of interviews with victims, witnesses and officials, details crimes of sexual violence committed primarily by soldiers of various rebel forces—the RUF, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and the West Side Boys. The report also examines sexual violence by government forces and militias, as well as international peacekeepers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Girls, International Organizations, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Militaries, Militias, Non-State Armed Groups, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2003

The Systematic Use of Rape as a Tool of War in Darfur: A Blueprint for International War Crimes Prosecutions


Wagner, Justin. 2005. “The Systematic Use of Rape as a Tool of War in Darfur: A Blueprint for International War Crimes Prosecutions.” Georgetown Journal of International Law 37 (1): 193–243.

Author: Justin Wagner

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, War Crimes, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militias, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Sudan

Year: 2005


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