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Dynamics of Sexual Violence in Intrastate Conflict.pdf

Dynamics of Sexual Violence in Intrastate Conflict.pdf

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Abstract: The power of rape and sexual violence in violent communal conflict creates scenes of the outrageous, the incomprehensible, that public and private interventionist organizations find themselves unequipped to deal with or even make sense of. This failure has a transformational effect on communal violence towards intractability. This paper unpacks a number of the underlying psychological sociological elements of rape and sexual violence in communal intrastate conflict zones in order to provide a usable understanding for the field interventionist and the organizational planner. Beyond the psychological underpinnings of sociological structures of violence, the explanations offered in this paper focus on inter-cultural sexual violence as a weapon of war. This is followed by an examination of intra-cultural sexual violence as an ongoing gender competition for identity dominance and generational transmission of existential memory.
Abstract: The power of rape and sexual violence in violent communal conflict creates scenes of the outrageous, the incomprehensible, that public and private interventionist organizations find themselves unequipped to deal with or even make sense of. This failure has a transformational effect on communal violence towards intractability. This paper unpacks a number of the underlying psychological sociological elements of rape and sexual violence in communal intrastate conflict zones in order to provide a usable understanding for the field interventionist and the organizational planner. Beyond the psychological underpinnings of sociological structures of violence, the explanations offered in this paper focus on inter-cultural sexual violence as a weapon of war. This is followed by an examination of intra-cultural sexual violence as an ongoing gender competition for identity dominance and generational transmission of existential memory.

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Published by: Patrick James Christian on Feb 09, 2013
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10/19/2013

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Sexual Violence in Intrastate Conflict 
 
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The Dynamics of Sexual Violence in Intra-State Conflict
Patrick James Christian, PhD Student Nova Southeastern UniversityGraduate School of Humanities & Social SciencesDepartment of Conflict Analysis & Resolution
 
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Abstract:
The power of rape and sexual violence inviolent communal conflict creates scenes of theoutrageous, the incomprehensible, that public and private interventionist organizations find themselvesunequipped to deal with or even make sense of. Thisfailure has a transformational effect on communalviolence towards intractability. This paper unpacks anumber of the underlying psychological sociologicalelements of rape and sexual violence in communalintrastate conflict zones in order to provide a usableunderstanding for the field interventionist and theorganizational planner. Beyond the psychologicalunderpinnings of sociological structures of violence, theexplanations offered in this paper focus on inter-culturalsexual violence as a weapon of war. This is followed byan examination of intra-cultural sexual violence as anongoing gender competition for identity dominance andgenerational transmission of existential memory.
Keywords:
Rape, sexual violence, genital mutilation,identity, power dominance, psychology, sociology,identity, memory.
Introduction
“Violence to the body causes the death of the self because it is so inescapably humiliating
(Gilligan,1996)
 
In the fall and winter of 2004, African Union Ceasefire Commission teams
Golf 
and
 Hotel
 worked to investigate and interpose themselves between the combatants fighting what the UnitedStates
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had just declared to be a conflict of genocidal proportions. Based out of the town of Kabkabiya, north of the Jebel Mara and west of al-Fashir in Darfur the Sudan, these two teams of military officers patrolled the vast landscape assigned to them in helicopters, land rovers, andsometimes camels, performing investigations and mediations of the ongoing violence. On onesuch mission, we were called to mediate a growing standoff between African tribes in the JebelMara and their Arab counterparts in Zelinjie to the west. Just as we landed in our Ukrainian piloted helicopter near the Village of Kasara (in the Jebel Mara), however, a line of Arab Militia
Darfur 
 
Refugee,
 
2004
 
– 
 
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(known as the Janjaweed) came over a steep rise on their camels and horses. Some 300 AfricanArabs in mixed dress of civilian and military, sporting weapons of various countries and dubiousage, trotted past us enroute to the battle. A few of them glanced at us in curiosity, but continuedin their assault on the town of Moony, two kilometers away. The lead rebel pickets opened up,and a fierce battle of assault rifles and RPGs erupted. At this point, the pilots of the MI-8 were practically in panicked convulsions as they waved us back to the helicopter to get out of the lineof fire. Apparently, we would not be staving off any attack today, and we returned to our camp.The next morning, we returned, after picking up additional protection troops, to the scene of the battle. The surviving rebels met us and escorted us to the battlefield where villagers wailed asthey pulled and dragged their loved ones to hastily dug mass graves. They wrapped them indeath, as in life; white robes for the men, gaily, colored garb for the women and children,gently placing them in their mud coffins with great ceremony. From the dignity of death in battle accorded to the fighters, we moved past those whose dignity had been stripped away; theinnocent victims in their nakedness, laying half in, half out of the carved mud hole which was toserve as their grave. As we entered a mud house which served as a makeshift hospital, we metthose who faced the worst battle, the raped village girls, some as young as 12 years old. There,one of the girls, Fatimah
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, related how armed men on horseback had broken down their smallmud house and seized her and her younger sister. Using a rifle, their attackers struck them on thesides of their faces and tore their dresses from their bodies. Several of the men then proceeded torape the girls until they passed out from pain and terror. Our mediation team finished taking their statements and quickly exited the mud hut, never discussing or repeating the girls’ stories to our colleagues or including them in our official reports. Quite frankly, none of us understood how tointegrate what we had heard in the semi-dark mud hut into the larger structure of communalviolence we were daily observing.In her book, Rape: Sex, Violence, History, Dr. Joanna Bourke writes that “rape and sexualviolence are deeply rooted in
specific
political, economic and cultural environments” (Bourke,2007). Interventionist personnel involved in humanitarian and peace operations missions areroutinely confronted with sexual violence in the conflict zones of emerging intrastate conflicts.As the story above illustrates, interventionist personnel require insight into the uncomfortablelandscape of sexual violence as an integral part of their education. They need an understandingof what is happening, why it is happening, and what mediation, negotiation or facilitationstrategies or tactics they can employ to reduce the incidences of violence and treat the victimizedcommunities. If Bourke is correct that sexual violence is rooted in the political, cultural andeconomic environments of those communities involved in the conflict, then a number of seemingly relevant questions arise such as: who constructs the meaning of victim and perpetrator of sexual violence in intra-state conflicts? Where does sexual violence most occur and in whatenvironments does it most proliferate in? Who engages in rape and sexual violence, who
 
 
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authorizes or empowers its use, and who benefits from and defends its practice? Finally, how dowe as interventionists deal with and feel about the rage so much in open display around us?
The dynamics of sexual violence in intrastate conflict
The power of rape and sexual violence in violent communal conflict can be discerned less bywhat is said or reported and more by what is not said and not reported. There is a void in theability for most interventionists’ organizations and their staff to articulate the power that sexualviolence brings to the conflict. It becomes a reportable item only when it is politicized for us. Butit is politicized only when trusted and informed organizations (like the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) articulate the political and military nature of sexual violence and rape. Untilthen, the rest of us remain as bystanders; awkwardly trying to avoid our eyes to scenes of intimate ferocity, a process that transforms us into unwitting bystanders whose un-involvementcreates the very authorization that we would resist offering. We remain as spectators, eyesaverted, waiting for the victimized society to defend their own with violence, which will thenenergize us to engage in our mandated mission of peacekeeping and ceasefire mediation. Thefailure of the victimized society to respond; to even attempt to avenge the attacks or respond in arecognizable fashion confuses us and leads us to yet further hesitation.The subsequent behavior of the supposed victims creates further doubt over who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. The mother bearing a baby conceived in rape kills her ownchild rather than bring it to term; a family murders their own daughter when she returns carryingthe seed of the rapist outraged that she was too weak to take her own life, leaving this final insultto be accomplished by her already grieving loved ones. These are scenes of the outrageous, theincomprehensible and it is no wonder that interventionists hailing from civilized capitals withformal rules of law and order are unable to achieve a coherent mental picture of what ishappening, never mind formulating strategies and tactics for a successful intervention. Becausewe cannot comprehend the context that the violence is occurring in; or gauge the relative psychological and emotional dispositions of the perpetrators and victims; or that we don’tunderstand the sociological, economic, and cultural structures that may be involved in theseviolent acts, we hesitate. This initial hesitation by the interventionist quickly becomes a blueprintfor non-effective action with exculpatory explanations that eventually lay the blame evenly onthe shoulders of both victim and perpetrator (Ofer, 1994). The error of the interventionist is notin their hesitation when faced with the violent events that are unfolding in front of them. The firstsin of the interventionist is to wander into that conflict zone uninformed, unaware of thestructures of conflict and the dynamics of communal violence.With the remainder of this paper, I suggest that there are two broad and interlocking areas of considerations that together, can inform the interventionist about the underlying causes,

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