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Women, Peace, and Security and the DRC: Time to Rethink Wartime Sexual Violence as Gender-Based Violence?

  • Sahla Aroussi (a1)
Abstract

During armed conflicts, women experience extensive gender harm of a physical, sexual, legal, economic, social, cultural, and political nature. Recently, however, we have witnessed unprecedented attention in international law and policy-making arenas to the specific issue of sexual violence as a strategy of warfare. This has been particularly obvious in the agenda on women, peace, and security. Since 2008, the United Nations agenda has increasingly and repeatedly focused on sexual violence in armed conflicts in several Security Council resolutions, calling on and pressuring member states and international agencies to address this issue using militaristic and legalistic strategies. In this article, looking particularly at the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I argue that the prioritization of sexual harm over other forms of gender harm has had a detrimental impact on women living in aid-dependent societies, and the international obsession with sexual harm has delivered neither justice nor security for victims in the DRC. The article concludes that in order to effectively address sexual violence, we have to rethink sexual harm as gender harm and start listening and responding to women's actual needs and priorities on the ground.

During armed conflicts, women experience extensive gender harm of a physical, sexual, legal, economic, social, cultural, and political nature. Recently, however, we have witnessed unprecedented attention in international law and policy-making arenas to the specific issue of sexual violence as a strategy of warfare. This has been particularly obvious in the agenda on women, peace, and security. Since 2008, the United Nations agenda has increasingly and repeatedly focused on sexual violence in armed conflicts in several Security Council resolutions, calling on and pressuring member states and international agencies to address this issue using militaristic and legalistic strategies. In this article, looking particularly at the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I argue that the prioritization of sexual harm over other forms of gender harm has had a detrimental impact on women living in aid-dependent societies, and the international obsession with sexual harm has delivered neither justice nor security for victims in the DRC. The article concludes that in order to effectively address sexual violence, we have to rethink sexual harm as gender harm and start listening and responding to women's actual needs and priorities on the ground.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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