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

How Sexual Trauma Can Create Obstacles to Transnational Feminism: The Case of Shifra


Weinbaum, Batya. 2006. “How Sexual Trauma Can Create Obstacles to Transnational Feminism: The Case of Shifra.” NWSA Journal 18 (3): 71-87.

Author: Batya Weinbaum


Obstacles to organizing peace can sometimes emerge because women have suffered previous sexual violence. Consequently, the frame through which they react to contemporary political situations, including peace demonstrations organized by transnational feminists, might at the core have an internal structure derived from previous violation that women then project to identify, modify, and contain controversy in external events. Therefore, closely examining the border between private and public spheres in women's lives might not always lead to progressive politics for women as a group, as some might hope. Rather, some women might attempt to recover from specifically sexual violence in previous wars, seizing upon discourse bound of national security. They may attempt to regain internal strength by fortifying gender identity that has been thrown into crisis, using nationalistic contours to reaffirm their sense of self. This might lead them to actively protest other women working for peace. Since trauma survivors exhibit modes of recounting life histories that vividly dramatize past events in order to draw attention to private pain in public, the force of such narrators who speak in the streets can upstage peaceworkers' events.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Ethnicity, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Trauma, Nationalism, Religion, Security, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Violence Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Western Europe Countries: France, Israel, Morocco, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Spain

Year: 2006

Scorched by the Fire of War: Masculinity, War Wounds, and Disability in Soviet Visual Culture, 1941-65


McCallum, Claire E. 2015. “Scorched by the Fire of War: Masculinity, War Wounds, and Disability in Soviet Visual Culture, 1941-65.” The Slavonic and East European Review 93 (2): 251-85.

Author: Claire E. McCallum


Drawing on images reproduced in both professional and popular publications, this article charts the changing representation of the war-damaged man in Soviet visual culture from the outbreak of war in 1941 until the reinstatement of Victory Day as a public holiday in 1965. Through such images it is shown that art followed a very different trajectory than literature or film when it came to dealing with such problematic aspects of the war experience, a disjunction that is attributed to the inherent nature of the various cultural genres. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the most dramatic shift in the depiction of the damaged man came — not in the Thaw as we might expect — but in the mid 1960s as part of a wider reassessment of the War and its legacy in Soviet visual culture.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Soviet Union (former)

Year: 2015

The Women and Peace Hypothesis in Peacebuilding Settings: Attitudes of Women in the Wake of the Rwandan Genocide


Brounéus, Karen. 2014. “The Women and Peace Hypothesis in Peacebuilding Settings: Attitudes of Women in the Wake of the Rwandan Genocide.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 40 (1): 522-42.

Author: Karen Brounéus


"But what happens in the wake of war? For the first time, this study brings the women and peace hypothesis to the postconflict, peacebuilding setting. It argues that due to the particular circumstances of a country after civil war, not only must the questions surrounding the women and peace hypothesis shift from focusing on attitudes toward war to focusing on attitudes toward peace, but war-related trauma must be integral to the debate. Knowledge of women’s and men’s psychological health and attitudes toward peacebuilding in postconflict settings may provide valuable information for understanding the challenges of peacebuilding and ultimately for improving the prospects for peace. By studying the relation between war-related psychological ill health and attitudes about trust, coexistence, and the gacaca the Rwandan peacebuilding process among women and men twelve years after the genocide, this study extends the women and peace hypothesis to the peacebuilding phase" (Brounéus 2014, 125-6). 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Genocide, Health, Trauma, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2014

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 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

Gender, Local Justice, and Ownership: Confronting Masculinities and Femininities in Northern Uganda


Anderson, Jessica L. 2009. “Gender, Local Justice, and Ownership: Confronting Masculinities and Femininities in Northern Uganda.” Peace Research 41 (2): 59–83.

Author: Jessica L. Anderson


This article describes the livelihood structures of internally displaced men and women during Uganda's civil war, how these livelihood structures affect femininities and masculinities, and how they inform mens and women's opinions on transitional justice. It argues that insecurity and deprivation in northern Uganda's displacement camps during the country's twenty-four years of conflict have had a significant impact on the construction of masculinities and femininities in the region. Both men and women crave agency in their daily lives following this prolonged period of displacement and disempowerment. This sense of ownership refers to different forms of communal and individual reparation and the local practice of mato oput, a restorative justice process that has been criticized as gender insensitive. Acholi men's and women's support for the practice of mato oput points to the need to adopt a more thoughtful perspective on gender justice that balances international values with the ideas and desires of war survivors. Acholi men and women request control and ownership over justice mechanisms as an integral part of their conception of justice. Through examining such requests, this article analyses the ways in which Acholi men and women desire ownership and how a transitional justice process can extend and bolster this ownership.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Domestic Violence, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Health, Trauma, Households, Justice, Transitional Justice, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2009

Gender, Conflict, and Peace-Building: How Conflict Can Catalyse Positive Change for Women


Arostegui, Julie. 2013. "Gender, Conflict, and Peace-Building: How Conflict Can Catalyse Positive Change for Women." Gender & Development 21 (3): 533-49. doi:10.1080/13552074.2013.846624.

Author: Julie Arostegui


Although modern-day armed conflict is horrific for women, recent conflict and postconflict periods have provided women with new platforms and opportunities to bring about change. The roles of women alter and expand during conflict as they participate in the struggles and take on more economic responsibilities and duties as heads of households. The trauma of the conflict experience also provides an opportunity for women to come together with a common agenda. In some contexts, these changes have led women to become activists, advocating for peace and long-term transformation in their societies. This article explores how women have seized on the opportunities available to them to drive this advocacy forward: including the establishment of an international framework on women, peace, and security that includes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and other international agreements and commitments to involving women in post-conflict peace-building. The article is based on on-the-ground research and capacity-building activities carried out in the Great Lakes Region of Africa on the integration of international standards on gender equality and women's rights into post-conflict legal systems.

Keywords: women, peace and security, Gender, conflict, peace building, UN Security Council Resolution 1325, gender policy, women's empowerment, women's advocacy, Maputo Protocol, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Health, Trauma, Households, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2013

Displaced Women in Settings of Continuing Armed Conflict


Roe, Michael D. 1992. “Displaced Women in Settings of Continuing Armed Conflict.” Women & Therapy 13 (1-2): 89–10.

Author: Michael D. Roe


Based on interview data and observations primarily from Central America and the Philippines, this article reviews the psychosocial adaptation of women forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict, but who remain in settings of war violence. The pervasive danger and fear in such settings impedes progress toward psychological and social equilibrium. These women experience terror, a spectrum of war-related emotional traumas, gender and family role instabilities, and sexual vulnerabilities. These women may also experience empowerment in the midst of armed conflict through the formation of new communities in which they share the leadership, through filling essential roles within these communities, and through concretization, in which they both analyze and take action against political and economic oppression and gender subordination.

Keywords: empowerment, female-headed households, gender subordination, migration adaptation

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Sexual Violence Regions: Americas, Central America, Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Philippines

Year: 1992

Child Soldiers: Understanding The Context


Somasundaram, Daya. 2002. “Child Soldiers: Understanding The Context.” British Medical Journal 324 (7348): 1268–71.

Author: Daya Somasundaram


This article analyzes the reasons why children join – or are forced to join – armies. The author posits that if we are to prevent children fighting in wars, we need to understand the conditions under which children become soldiers. By understanding these conditions, organizations, societies and other invested parties will be able to improve them and thus prevent children becoming soldiers.

The author finds that the reasons why children become soldiers can be categorized into ‘push and pull’ factors, a categorization system which has also been used by the International Labour Organization.

According to the author, the only way to reduce the phenomenon of child soldiers is to improve the push and pull factors: institutional violence, traumatization (push factors) and disillusionment, entrapment, curiosity (pull factors). (Save the Children)

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Trauma, Violence

Year: 2002


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