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

Gender, National Security and Counter-Terrorism: Human Rights Perspectives


Satterthwaite, Margaret L., and Jayne C. Huckerby. 2013. Gender, National Security and Counter-Terrorism: Human Rights Perspectives. London: Routledge.

Authors: Margaret L. Satterthwaite, Jayne C. Huckerby


In the name of fighting terrorism, countries have been invaded; wars have been waged; people have been detained, rendered and tortured; and campaigns for "hearts and minds" have been unleashed. Human rights analyses of the counter-terrorism measures implemented in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 have assumed that men suffer the most—both numerically and in terms of the nature of rights violations endured. This assumption has obscured the ways that women, men, and sexual minorities experience counter-terrorism. By integrating gender into a human rights analysis of counter-terrorism—and human rights into a gendered analysis of counter-terrorism—this volume aims to reverse this trend. Through this variegated human rights lens, the authors in this volume identify the spectrum and nature of rights violations arising in the context of gendered counter-terrorism and national security practices. Introduced with a foreword by Martin Scheinin, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, the volume examines a wide range of gendered impacts of counter-terrorism measures that have not been theorized in the leading texts on terrorism, counter-terrorism, national security, and human rights.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gender Analysis, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Terrorism, Torture

Year: 2013

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

The Construction of Indigenous Suspects: Militarization and the Gendered and Ethnic Dynamics of Human Rights Abuses in Southern Mexico


Stephen, Lynn. 1999. “The Construction of Indigenous Suspects: Militarization and the Gendered and Ethnic Dynamics of Human Rights Abuses in Southern Mexico.” American Ethnologist 26 (4): 822–42.

Author: Lynn Stephen


I use the tools of ethnography to analyze the gendered and ethnic patterns of militarization and torture in southern Mexico. Such patterns replay gendered and sexual stereotypes of indigenous men and women as captured in national myth and vision. While such an analysis is useful for Mexico, it draws from and is applicable to other situations of political violence and provides a way of understanding the underlying culture wars—signaled by crises of representation at the margins of states—being waged to redefine nations. I argue that the insights of anthropological analysis (particularly historical and cultural analysis) are key in clarifying the rationales official for treating some people differently than others, and thus constructing them as suspects vulnerable to political violence and human rights abuses.

Topics: Gender, Gender Analysis, Indigenous, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Nationalism, Rights, Human Rights, Torture, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 1999

The Soldier and the Terrorist: Sexy Nationalism, Queer Violence


Kuntsman, Adi. 2008. “The Soldier and the Terrorist: Sexy Nationalism, Queer Violence.” Sexualities 11 (1-2): 142–70. doi:10.1177/1363460707085468.

Author: Adi Kuntsman


An Israeli soldier, praised for killing terrorists in their homes, and adored as a gay prince charming; a Palestinian gay man called either a lying terrorist or a cute Arab boy with an almond ass; an Abu-Ghraib prisoner, whose naked body, pornographically mediated and distributed by the media generates a homosexual rape fantasy of all Arabs in-the-name-of- Israeli-security. These images were collected during my ethnography of a Russian-Israeli GLBT community, in the community’s website. My analysis of the website’s publications and discussions focuses on the ways violence, sexuality and nationhood intertwine in immigrants’ sense of belonging to the country that is officially defined by the state policy – and indeed perceived by many immigrants themselves – as their home. I examine how masculinities become synecdoches of nation, and how homosexual fantasies work to create attachment to one’s national home and hatred towards those defined as its enemies.

Keywords: immigration, masculinities, nationalism, queer studies, violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Occupation, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Infrastructure, Information & Communication Technologies, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, Sexuality, Terrorism, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Russian Federation

Year: 2008

The Hidden Prevalence of Male Sexual Assault During War


Carlson, Eric Stener. 2006. "The Hidden Prevalence of Male Sexual Assault During War." The British Journal of Criminology 46 (1): 16-25.

Author: Eric Stener Carlson


The article presents the author's observation on the prevalence of male sexual assault during war. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia investigated sexual assault in the mid-1990s. The male prisoners were sexually assaulted by forced fellatio, masturbation, mutilation of the genitals and insertion of objects into the anus. Sexual torture is widely used to break down the identity of political prisoners. In most cases of sexual assault, the victim is reluctant to admit that he or she was abused. Therefore, it is important to understand the psychodynamics of this trauma. (Abstract from EBSCO)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Health, Trauma, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2006

Rape as a Weapon of War


Card, Claudia. 1996. "Rape as a Weapon of War." Hypatia 11 (4): 5-18.

Author: Claudia Card


This essay examines how rape of women and girls by male soldiers works as a martial weapon. Continuities with other torture and terrorism and with civilian rape are suggested. The inadequacy of past philosophical treatments of the enslavement of war captives is briefly discussed. Social strategies are suggested for responding and a concluding fantasy offered, not entirely social, of a strategy to change the meanings of rape to undermine its use as a martial weapon.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women, Terrorism, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 1996

Rape as Torture in the DRC: Sexual Violence Beyond the Conflict Zone


Pettitt, Jo. 2014. Rape as Torture in the DRC: Sexual Violence Beyond the Conflict Zone. London: Freedom from Torture.

Author: Jo Pettitt

Topics: Armed Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2014

Sexual Violence against Men and Boys


Russell, Wynne. 2007. “Sexual Violence against Men and Boys.” Forced Migration Review 27: 22–23.

Author: Wynne Russell


Russell stresses that male-directed sexual violence—including rape, sexual torture, mutilation of the genitals, sexual humiliation, sexual enslavement, forced incest, and forced rape—has been reported in 25 armed conflicts across the world in the last decade. However, such violence remains largely undocumented. The author notes that until we better understand the scope and consequences of such violence, male survivors will continue to be deprived of care or justice.  Russell also states that systematic collection of data is vital. Organizations operating in the field should strengthen efforts to identify male victims of sexual assault and create reporting categories for violence that affects male sexuality and reproductive capacity, such as the mutilation of the genitals. Mechanisms are needed for expert discussion within and across cultural contexts on how to provide assistance for men and boy survivors. Male victims need to be fully represented in international justice initiatives and included in national laws on sexual violence. 


"Even though male violence is included in international tribunals’ definitions of sexual violence, the domestic laws of many countries do not include male victims in their definitions of sexual violence.” (22)

"Little is known about the psychological consequences of male victims." (22)

"We need to understand the impact of sexual violence against men on post-conflict reintegration of adult or child combatants, or of civilian men forced to rape family or community members.” (22)

“Both adult men and boys are most vulnerable to sexual violence in detention. In some places over 50% of detainees reportedly experience sexualized torture.” (22)

“The main overt purposes of sexualized violence against men and boys appear to be torture, initiation and integration into military/paramilitary forces, punishment of individuals and a strategy of war designed to terrify, demoralize and destroy family and community cohesion.” (22)

“Sexual violence is used as a mechanism by which men are placed or kept in a position subordinate to other men.” (22)

“Organizations in conflict zones need to collect data and create categories for violence that affect male sexuality and reproductive capacity.” (23)

“Mechanisms for assisting men and boy survivors need to be developed.” (23)

“The prosecution by the international Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of perpetrators of sexual violence against male victims and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent extension of the crime of rape to include male victims are positive examples.” (23)

Topics: Gender, Men, Boys, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2007


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