Sexual violence in the border zone: the EU, the Women, Peace and Security agenda and carceral humanitarianism in Libya


8 September
2020

, Volume
96, Number
5

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Paul Kirby

The last decades have seen a striking increase in international policy seeking to protect against conflict-related sexual violence. Norms of protection are, however, unevenly applied in practice. In this article, I address one such situation: the significant and growing evidence of widespread sexual violence at detention sites in Libya where migrants are imprisoned after interception on the Mediterranean Sea. Drawing on policy documents, human rights reports, interviews with advocates and officials, and an analysis of debates in the EU Parliament and UNHCR’s humanitarian evacuation scheme in Libya, I examine how abuses have been framed, and with what effects. I argue that decisions about protection are shaped not only by raced and gendered categorizations but also by a demarcation of bodies in the border zone, where vulnerability is to some degree acknowledged, but agency and responsibility also disavowed by politicians, diplomats and practitioners. The wrong of sexual violence is thus both explicitly recognized but also re-articulated in ways that lessen the obligations of the same states and regional organizations that otherwise champion the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. The combination of mass pullback and detention for many migrants with evacuation for a vulnerable few is an example of carceral humanitarianism, where ‘rescue’ often translates into confinement and abuse for unwelcome populations. My analysis highlights the importance of the positionality of migrants in the Libyan border zone for the form of recognition they are afforded, and the significant limits to the implementation of the EU’s gender-responsive humanitarian policies in practice.

Source: International Law and Governance

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Securing the nation through the politics of sexual violence: tracing resonances between Delhi and Cologne


8 September
2020

, Volume
96, Number
5

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Billy Holzberg

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Priya Raghavan

Postcolonial and black feminist scholars have long cautioned against the dangerous proximity between the politics of sexual violence and the advancement of nationalist and imperial projects. In this article, we uncover what it is in particular about efforts to address sexual violence that makes them so amenable to exclusionary nationalist projects, by attending to the political aftermaths of the rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012, and the cases of mass sexual abuse that took place during New Year’s Eve in Cologne in 2015. Tracing the nationalist discourses and policies precipitated in their wake, we demonstrate how across both contexts, the response to sexual violence was ultimately to augment the securitizing power and remit of the state—albeit through different mechanisms, and while producing different subjects of/for surveillance, control and regulation. We highlight how in both cases it is through contemporary resonances of a persistent (post)colonial echo—which enmeshes the normative female body with the idea of the nation—that sexual abuse becomes an issue of national security and the politics of sexual violence becomes tethered to exclusionary nationalisms. Revealing the more general, shared, rationalities that bind the nation to the normative female body while attending to the located political reverberations that make this entanglement so affectively potent in the distinct contexts of India and Germany helps distinguish and amplify transnational and intersectional feminist approaches to sexual violence that do not so readily accommodate nationalist ambitions.

Source: International Law and Governance

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Queering explanatory frameworks for wartime sexual violence against men


8 September
2020

, Volume
96, Number
5

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Philipp Schulz

Charles Bean to speak at Future of Work LIVE 2020

Heleen Touquet

In this article we argue that prevalent explanatory frameworks of sexual violence against men primarily pursue one line of inquiry, explaining its occurrence as exclusively strategic and systematic, based on heteronormative and homophobic assumptions about violence, gender and sexualities. Feminist IR scholarship has significantly complexified our understanding of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), documenting its multiple forms and causes across time and space—thereby moving beyond the persistent opportunism-strategy dichotomy and critically engaging with the dominant ‘rape as a weapon of war’ narrative. Drawing on empirical material from Sri Lanka and northern Uganda we queer the current explanatory frameworks, analyzing multiple instances of CRSV against men that both simultaneously seem to confirm and defy categorizations as opportunistic or strategic, while being situated in broader and systematic warfare dynamics and unequal power-relationships. Our empirical material shows that relying on crude categorizations such as the opportunism–strategy binary is unproductive and essentialist, as it tends to mask over the complexities and messiness of deeply gendered power relationships during times of war. Binary strategy/opportunism categorizations also imply broader unintended political consequences, including the further marginalization of sexual violence acts that fall outside the dominant scripts or binary frameworks—such as sexual violence against men with opportunistic underpinnings.

Source: International Law and Governance

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