Weapons of Sex, Weapons of War: Feminisms, Ethnic Conflict, and the Rise of Rape and Sexual Violence in Public International Law

TitleWeapons of Sex, Weapons of War: Feminisms, Ethnic Conflict, and the Rise of Rape and Sexual Violence in Public International Law
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsJaleel, Rana
JournalCultural Studies
Volume27
Issue1
Pagination115-135
Abstract

Recent international attention has focused on designations of rape and sexual violence in conflict zones. The most formative debates on this issue centre on the 1990s-era conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which also involved heated debates amongst feminists over designations of rape as genocide. While the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda case, the Prosecutor v. Akayesu, resulted in the first formal charge of wartime rape as genocide within international criminal law, the first case to charge wartime rape as genocidal occurred in US federal court. This project looks for the overarching social and political meaning of the contemporary international legal focus on rape and sexual violence. It examines why, how, and to what extent US and transnational feminist legal academics and activists transmitted and secured their understandings of the relationships between sex, violence and ethno-religious difference within the international legal arena. In doing so, I argue that their participation in the contemporary recognition and narration of sexual injury in a global context both retreads and reconfigures the heated 1980s-era US Sex Wars debates on the workings of gender, sex, race and power.

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