Sylabus Topic

Impact of Combat and Sexual Harassment on the Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Men and Women Peacekeepers in Somalia


Fontana, Alan, Brett Litz, and Robert Rosenheck. 2000. "Impact of Combat and Sexual Harassment on the Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Men and Women Peacekeepers in Somalia." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 188 (3): 163-169.

Authors: Alan Fontana, Brett Litz, Robert Rosenheck


The impact of combat and sexual harassment on the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is compared for 1307 men and 197 women peacekeepers who served in the same military units. A theoretical model was proposed to express the nature of the impact. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the model separately for men and women. Good-fitting, parsimonious models were developed that showed substantial similarity for men and women. For men, severity of PTSD symptoms was impacted by exposure to combat directly and indirectly through fear and sexual harassment. For women, severity of PTSD symptoms was impacted by combat indirectly through the same two influences, although the mechanisms involving fear and sexual harassment were somewhat different. For both genders, moreover, PTSD severity was impacted directly by exposure to the dying of the Somali people. These similarities suggest that in modern stressful overseas military missions, both genders may be susceptible to the same types of risk for the development of PTSD. The incidence and impact of sexual harassment is particularly noteworthy in the case of men and calls for more detailed investigation in future studies.

Keywords: sexual assault, posttraumatic stress disorder, peacekeepers

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Somalia

Year: 2000

Impact of Deployment Length and Experience on the Well-Being of Male and Female Soldiers


Adler, Amy B., Ann H. Huffman, Paul D. Bliese, and Carl A. Castro. 2005. "The Impact of Deployment Length and Experience on the Well-Being of Male and Female Soldiers." Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 10 (2): 121-137.

Authors: Amy B. Adler, Ann H. Huffman, Paul D. Bliese, Carl A. Castro


This study examined the effects of stressor duration (deployment length) and stressor novelty (no prior deployment experience) on the psychological health of male and female military personnel returning from a peacekeeping deployment. The sample consisted of men (n = 2,114) and women (n= 1,225) surveyed for symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress. The results confirmed the hypotheses. Longer deployments and 1st-time deployments were associated with an increase in distress scores. However, the relationship between deployment length and increased distress was found only for male soldiers. The findings demonstrate the importance of considering the impact of exposure to long-term occupational stressors and confirm, in part, previous research that has demonstrated a different stress response pattern for men and women.

Keywords: male soldiers, female soldiers, mental health, peacekeeping

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Peacekeeping Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2005

Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women's Rights


Kandiyoti, Deniz. 2007. "Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Islam and Women's Rights." Third World Quarterly 28 (3): 503-17.

Author: Deniz Kandiyoti


This paper argues that gender issues are becoming politicized in novel and counterproductive ways in contexts where armed interventions usher in new blueprints for governance and 'democratization'. Using illustrations from constitutional and electoral processes in Afghanistan and Iraq, it analyses how the nature of emerging political settlements in environments of high risk and insecurity may jeopardize stated international commitments to a women's rights agenda. The disjuncture between stated aims and observed outcomes becomes particularly acute in contexts where security and the rule of law are severely compromised, where Islam becomes a stake in power struggles among contending factions and where ethnic/sectarian constituencies struggles of representation in defense of their collective rights.

Keywords: post-conflict reconstruction, women's political participation, governance, Islam, women's rights


  • Since the September 11 attacks and the US’ subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been various political efforts to incorporate women’s rights into the reconstruction agendas of Iraq and Afghanistan; however, in the absence of stable government systems, the realization of these rights has been difficult. In Afghanistan, a new Constitution was drafted in 2004 that advocated the political representation of women. These efforts at gender equality have been undermined, however, by documents such as Article 3 of the Constitution entitled “Islam and Constitutionality,” which demands that all governmental laws abide by the laws of Islam.
  • In Iraq, the situation of women deteriorated in the years following the 1980-88 Iran-Iran War and the subsequent invasion of Kuwait. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the country underwent a process of Islamization, which delegitimized the efforts of various Iraqi women’s rights groups. Sectarian strife also poses a barrier to the inclusion of women in the political processes in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, women generally affiliate themselves with ethnic and political constituencies, which divides them from one another, preventing them from uniting for a common women’s rights cause. In Iraq, despite the quota promoting women’s participation in politics, most women identify as Shiites, the more conservative of Islam’s factions. Kandiyoti also argues that compounded with the conservative Muslim religion, the war economies of Iraq and Afghanistan have exacerbated gender-based violence.
  • Kandiyoti proceeds to address the reasons for violations of women’s rights in Afghanistan, attributing the poor situation of women to a combination of poverty, displacement, and the drug economy. During the civil war following the emergence of the Taliban in 1994, human rights violations, including crimes against women, were rampant. The Taliban imposed laws the limited the freedoms of women, including a conservative dress code and a curfew. Because of the poverty that defined the post-conflict period in Afghanistan, many men resorted to female trafficking as a source of income and sexual violence as an outlet for economic-related stress.
  • Kandiyoti concludes by stressing that the women’s rights agenda that accompanies post-conflict reconstruction efforts faces major hurdles. Prolonged conflict has also brought about social changes in Afghanistan and Iraq that force women to combat the threat from conservative social forces while also fighting for their rights.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Governance, Constitutions, Elections, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2007

Private Military Security Companies and the Problem of Men and Masculinities


Higate, Paul. 2009. "Private Military Security Companies and the Problem of Men and Masculinities." Paper presented at the 50th Annual Conference of the International Studies Association, New York, February 15-18.

Author: Paul Higate


Though there is little new in the existence of guns for hire or mercenaries for more critically inclined commentators, few predicted the extent to which private military contractors would come to both supplant and complement the activities of regular military personnel in the contemporary period. The occupation of Iraq puts this into sharpest focus with the number of private military contractors estimated to be close to 200,000 in comparison to the 160,000 uniformed personnel of national militaries occupying the country (Scahill, 2007). The dramatic burgeoning of the private security sector has led commentators to describe it as the new business face of warfare in the contemporary period (Mandel, 2002; Avant, 2005; Kinsey, 2007; Singer, 2005) underscoring its significance both now and almost certainly into the future. Drawing on the labour of men (and rather less women) from a range of countries (Maclellan, 2006), this multi billion dollar industry has become a key component in the management of conflict and its aftermath (Holmqvist, 2005).

Private Military Security Companies (PMSCs) should be seen as a critical subject of political enquiry as they engage international relations, domestic politics and national/international legislative systems within the context of both ethical and moral questions concerning the use of violence. Companies are involved in: the security of convoys, close protection of dignitaries, security sector reform, provision of logistical and support functions to military peacekeeping operations and combat operations.
Curiously, however, scholars working within the fields of Political Science, Critical Security Studies, Law and Gender Studies have almost entirely overlooked the importance of masculinity in their analyses of this sector (for a focus on women see Schultz and Yeung, 2005). What do we miss when masculinity is ignored in analyses of PMSCs? It is not simply that PMSCs have become increasingly important to how conflict is managed, but crucially - in contrast to regular military - their activities remain largely unregulated and their personnel almost entirely unaccountable. When seen alongside the perpetration of human rights abuses by a not insignificant number of private military contractors - including most notoriously the shooting of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Najaf in September 2007 (Tavernise, 2007), it is possible to suggest that PMSCs represent a key moment of (re)masculinisation in the contemporary period. It is for this reason that the curiosity of gender scholars should be sparked since the mobilisation thousands of men trained in violence who go on to work in spaces of legal exception is a unique phenomena that can, at times, exacerbate the insecurity of those vulnerable populations forced to host them.

There are few if any arenas that demonstrate the potent connections between violence, power and sex in the “post 9/11 manly moment” (Eisenstein, 2007: 161) as explicitly as those that concern the largely unregulated privatisation of force. Through suggesting future lines of inquiry around a unique and vibrant site of (militarised) masculinities that constitute the employee component of the PMSC sector, this article hopes to lay the foundations for a research agenda that recognises the centrality of masculinities to both the personal and professional social practices of its male employees. Depending on one’s normative intentions, findings from these kinds of inquiry can be used to argue for tighter regulation of the industry, or in a more radical sense, to its incremental dissolution. My own position though somewhat unlikely in the current period of neo-liberal and U.S.-driven geo-political dominance - is to argue that PMSC involvement in direct combat and combat support should be outlawed. Reasons for this are numerous but include primarily the ways that mercenary assistance means that the use of force continues to be prioritised as a decisive means of bringing war to an end as opposed to developing less bloody forms of conflict resolution (Richards, undated: 1). Not only does co-opting the profit motive into security work of this kind shape the conditions of possibility by which conflict is negotiated, but in a related sense, assumes an immanent logic that is difficult to break from. The quest for a peaceful world is harmed by increasing the number of private military contractors who remain outside the regulatory mechanisms of state military who in relative terms have constrained the actions of men of violence over many decades. How might we begin to challenge this creeping militarization?

Keywords: private security, masculinity

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Militarization, Peacekeeping, Security, Security Sector Reform Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Iraq

Year: 2009

The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice


Bolkovac, Kathryn and Cari Lynn. 2011. The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Authors: Kathryn Bolkovac, Cari Lynn


When Nebraska police officer and divorced mother of three Kathryn Bolkovac saw a recruiting announcement for private military contractor DynCorp International, she applied and was hired. Good money, world travel, and the chance to help rebuild a war-torn country sounded like the perfect job. Bolkovac was shipped out to Bosnia, where DynCorp had been contracted to support the UN peacekeeping mission. She was assigned as a human rights investigator, heading the gender affairs unit. The lack of proper training sounded the first alarm bell, but once she arrived in Sarajevo, she found out that things were a lot worse. At great risk to her personal safety, she began to unravel the ugly truth about officers involved in human trafficking and forced prostitution and their connections to private mercenary contractors, the UN, and the U.S. State Department. After bringing this evidence to light, Bolkovac was demoted, threatened with bodily harm, fired, and ultimately forced to flee the country under cover of darkness--bringing the incriminating documents with her. Thanks to the evidence she collected, she won a lawsuit against DynCorp, finally exposing them for what they were. This is her story and the story of the women left behind. (WorldCat)

Topics: Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Private Military & Security, Peacekeeping, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2011

Gender, Conflict, and Development


Bouta, Tsjeard, Georg Frerks, and Ian Bannon. 2005. Gender, Conflict, and Development. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Authors: Tsjeard Bouta, Georg Frerks, Ian Bannon


Gender, Conflict, and Development was written as an effort to fill a gap between the Bank's work on gender mainstreaming and its agenda in conflict and development. The authors identify a link between gender and conflict issues and provide the most comprehensive review of external and internal sources on gender and conflict, with a particular focus on policy relevance for an institution such as the Bank. The book highlights the gender dimensions of conflict, organized around major relevant themes such as female combatants, sexual violence, formal and informal peace processes, the legal framework, work, the rehabilitation of social services and community-driven development. And for each theme it analyzes how conflict changes gender roles and the policy options that might be considered to build on positive aspects while minimizing adverse changes. The suggested policy options and approaches aim to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by violent conflict to encourage change and build more inclusive and gender balanced social, economic and political relations in post-conflict societies. The book concludes by identifying some of the remaining challenges and themes that require additional analysis and research. The book will be of interest to policymakers, scholars, researchers, graduate and upper-level undergraduate students of conflict studies/regional studies/gender studies. (Amazon)

Keywords: female combatants, gender mainstreaming

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Society, Combatants, Female Combatants, Development, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Humanitarian Assistance, Livelihoods, Peacebuilding, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Sexual Violence, SV against Women

Year: 2005

Women, Children and Returnees


Arnvig, Eva. 1994. "Women, Children and Returnees." In Between Hope and Insecurity: The Social Consequences of the Cambodian Peace Process, edited by Peter Utting, 83-103. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Author: Eva Arnvig


This chapter examines the situation of women, children and returnees in Cambodia and the social impact of the large-scale United Nations presence. Following a brief description of certain general aspects related to family traditions, the position of women in the economy, education and health, the chapter examines a number of social and socio-psychological problems that have risen to the fore in recent years. These include post-war trauma, the reintegration of refugees, prostitution, drugs and street children. Particular attention is focused on the extent to which the behaviour of United Nations peace-keeping and security personnel may have contributed to certain social problems as well as the souring of relations between UNTAC and the host population.


  • Families who have issues assimilating after times of conflict face having to sell their children or allow their children to enter urban areas as street children or prostitutes. Other children are forced to work in plantations to earn money offering a stark change from growing up in refugee camps.

  • Many indigenous peoples blame UNTAC for increases in sexually transmitted infections, street crimes, poverty, and starvation for being unable to efficiently and successfully offer aid in the reintegration process.


“The Total Institution Syndrome has a serious affect on mental attitude and behaviour. It manifests itself in apathy, aggression, violent behaviour, abrupt changes of mood, depression and tiredness along with physical disorders such as headaches and stomach problems.” (92)

Topics: Age, Youth, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Indigenous, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1994

Ladies First

"Ten years after the bloody genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people in just 100 days, Rwanda’s women are leading their country’s healing process and taking their society forward into a different future. They are playing a remarkable role in politics and are also emerging as prominent figures in the business sector.


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