Sexual Torture

Making Race, Making Sex


Briggs, Laura. 2015. “Making Race, Making Sex.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1): 20–39. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.855089.

Author: Laura Briggs


This article is interested in how biomedicine, psychology, and anthropology have produced the rape-able, violable Arab body that need not be the subject of law, national or international. In the 1970s, feminists argued that violence produced gender, that rape and the threat of rape made “women” as a social category, abuse-able and inferior. In the 1980s and beyond, feminist science studies has shown how science makes sex, gender and race, at the level of constructing the basic categories. This article argues that we can extend these feminist theoretical insights to explore the ways that torture is itself a science that racializes, that produces and relies on a notion of Arab-Muslim masculinity as distinct from that enacted in “the West,” a region that is produced alongside a Muslim “Orient.”

Keywords: Abu Ghraib, Torture, feminism, rape

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Justice, Religion, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Men, Terrorism, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2015

Narratives and Testimonies of Women Detainees in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle


Hiralal, Kalpana. 2015. “Narratives and Testimonies of Women Detainees in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 29 (4): 34–44. doi:10.1080/10130950.2015.1104883.

Author: Kalpana Hiralal


South Africa's road to democracy was a product of the contributions of both men and women in the freedom struggle. Thousands of women risked their lives and sacrificed their families. In the post-apartheid era the narratives of the nationalist struggle have largely focused on popular and well known men and women, their experiences in exile and their role in the African National Congress (ANC) which led to the under-ground movement. This article seeks to document the lived experiences of women inmates and detainees in the liberation struggle, whose stories have remained in the shadows of dominant nationalist narratives. Thousands of women were arrested, subjected to naked body searches, torture, verbal abuse and sexual harassment. Women experienced both physical and psychological humiliation. This article argues that prison, despite being a "site of humiliation", repression, and subversion, also became a "site of female community and resistance" (Thapar-Bjorkert, 2006:12,25) and that women political prisoners were capable of challenging and negotiating their incarceration. This study challenges dominant narratives of the nationalist struggle by making women inmates and detainees crucial historical subjects and introduces the prison as another terrain of political struggle, resistance, confrontation, and negotiation in the telling of the liberation struggle.

Keywords: gender, prison, apartheid, Narratives, women detainees

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Race, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2015

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and the Policy Implications of Recent Research


Wood, Elizabeth Jean. 2014. “Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and the Policy Implications of Recent Research.” International Committee of the Red Cross 96 (894): 457–78.

Author: Elizabeth Jean Wood


Scholars increasingly document different forms of conflict-related sexual violence, their distinct causes, and their sharply varying deployment by armed organizations. In this paper, I first summarize recent research on this variation, emphasizing findings that contradict or complicate popular beliefs. I then discuss distinct interpretations of the claim that such violence is part of a continuum of violence between peace and war. After analyzing recent research on the internal dynamics of armed organizations, I suggest that widespread rape often occurs as a practice rather than as a strategy. Finally, I advance some principles to guide policy in light of recent research.

Keywords: conflict-related sexual violence, rape, sexual torture, civil war violence, causes of sexual violence, armed conflict

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Sexual Violence, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2014

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

Sexual Torture of Palestinian Men by Israeli Authorities


Weishut, Daniel J. N. 2015. “Sexual Torture of Palestinian Men by Israeli Authorities.” Reproductive Health Matters 23 (46): 71–84. doi:10.1016/j.rhm.2015.11.019.

Author: Daniel J. N. Weishut


In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arrests and imprisonment of Palestinian men in their early adulthood are common practice. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) collected thousands of testimonies of Palestinian men allegedly tortured or ill-treated by Israeli authorities. There are many types of torture, sexual torture being one of them. This study is based on the PCATI database during 2005-2012, which contains 60 cases – 4% of all files in this period – with testimonies of alleged sexual torture or ill-treatment. It is a first in the investigation of torture and ill-treatment of a sexual nature, allegedly carried out by Israeli security authorities on Palestinian men. Findings show that sexual ill-treatment is systemic, with 36 reports of verbal sexual harassment, either directed toward Palestinian men and boys or toward family members, and 35 reports of forced nudity. Moreover, there are six testimonies of Israeli officials involved in physical sexual assault of arrested or imprisoned Palestinian men. Physical assault in most cases concerned pressing and/or kicking the genitals, while one testimony pertained to simulated rape, and another described an actual rape by means of a blunt object. The article provides illustrations of the various types of sexual torture and ill-treatment of boys and men in the light of existing literature, and recommendations. 

Keywords: sexual violence, Torture, human rights, Israel, Palestinian

Topics: Gender, Men, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2015

Refugees, Race, and Gender: The Multiple Discrimination against Refugee Women


Pittaway, Eileen, and Linda Bartolomei. 2001. “Refugees, Race, and Gender: The Multiple Discrimination against Refugee Women.” Refuge 19 (6): 21-32.

Authors: Eileen Pittaway, Linda Bartolomei


This paper examines the intersectionality of race and gender in refugee situations, and the multiple forms of discrimination experienced by refugee women. It explores the notion of racism as a root cause of refugee generation, and the gendered nature of the refugee experience. The manner in which racism and sexism intersect to compound the human rights violations that refugee women experience is explored in the treatment of sexual violence in international and domestic law and policy; during armed conflict; in refugee camps; in countries of first asylum; and in countries of resettlement. Using a case study of one strand of refugee policy in Australia, it illustrates the impact of this discrimination on refugee women. The forthcoming World Conference against Racism offers a unique opportunity for this phenomenon to be addressed by the international community.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, International Law, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Organizations, Race, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Women, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Balkans, Oceania Countries: Australia

Year: 2001

A Narrative Study of Refugee Women Who Have Experienced Violence in the Context of War


Berman, Helene, Estrella Rosa Irías Girón, and Antonia Ponce Marroquin. 2006. “A Narrative Study of Refugee Women Who Have Experienced Violence in the Context of War.” Canadian Journal of Nursing Research 38 (4): 32-53.

Authors: Helene Berman, Estrella Rosa Irías Girón, Antonia Ponce Marroquin


Although women are rarely on the frontlines of battle, as in many other realms of contemporary life they bear a disproportionate burden of the consequences of war. Many have experienced torture firsthand or been witnesses to the torture or killing of family, friends, and loved ones. The use of rape and other forms of sexual torture has been well documented. For those who are forced to flee their homes and countries, separation from spouses, children, and other family members is common. Because of the sheer magnitude of global conflict, the number of refugees and displaced persons throughout the world has risen exponentially. It has been estimated that women constitute more than half of the world’s refugee population. The purpose of this narrative study was to examine the experiences of refugee women who experienced violence in the context of war. Data analysis revealed 8 themes: lives forever changed, new notions of normality, a pervasive sense of fear, selves obscured, living among and between cultures, a woman’s place in Canada, bearing heavy burdens – the centrality of children, and an uncaring system of care. Implications for research and practice, including limitations associated with individualized Western approaches, are discussed.

Keywords: refugees, women, war, violence, trauma, narrative, health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Women, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America, North America, South America, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala

Year: 2006

Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing*


Petchesky, Rosalind P. 2005. “Rights of the Body and Perversions of War: Sexual Rights and Wrongs Ten Years Past Beijing*.” International Social Science Journal 57 (184): 301–18. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2451.2005.552.x.

Author: Rosalind P. Petchesky

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Health, HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Trauma, LGBTQ, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Men, SV against Women, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2005

The Girl Child and Armed Conflict: Recognizing and Addressing Grave Violations of Girls’ Human Rights


Mazurana, Dyan, and Khristopher Carlson. 2006. "The Girl Child and Armed Conflict: Recognizing and Addressing Grave Violations of Girls’ Human Rights." UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) Expert Group Meeting, Florence, September 25-28.

Authors: Dyan Mazurana, Khristopher Carlson


During armed conflict, girls are subject to widespread and, at times, systematic forms of human rights violations that have mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and material repercussions. These violations include illegal detention with or without family members, abduction and forced removal from families and homes, disappearances, torture and other inhuman treatment, amputation and mutilation, forced recruitment into fighting forces and groups, slavery, sexual exploitation, increased exposure to HIV/AIDS, and a wide range of physical and sexual violations, including rape, enforced pregnancy, forced prostitution, forced marriage and forced child-bearing. There is urgent need for better documentation, monitoring and reporting on the extreme suffering that armed conflict inflicts on girls, as well as on the many roles girls play during conflict and its aftermath. Such information and response mechanisms are needed for the purpose of strengthening and developing policy and programs to prevent and or address these grave rights violations. This paper documents and analyses the grave human rights violations girls endure during situations of armed conflict and offers recommendations on preventing and or addressing those harms. The paper begins by offering a concise overview of current trends in armed conflict and the impact of armed conflict on children. It discusses existing international initiatives that identify grave and systematic violations against girls during armed conflict and reviews the most pertinent international legal standards relating to these violations. To better understand the gender dimensions, the paper describes and analyzes the experiences of girls during armed conflicts, noting gendered patterns to the grave rights violations committed against them. The paper offers examples of some best practices to address these violations. The paper concludes with concrete recommendations to governments, the United Nations and NGOs.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Girls, Health, HIV/AIDS, Households, International Law, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, NGOs, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2006


© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at

Subscribe to RSS - Sexual Torture