Systemic Silencing: Addressing Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Armed Conflict and its Aftermath

TitleSystemic Silencing: Addressing Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Armed Conflict and its Aftermath
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLewis, Chloé
EditorHeathcote, Gina, and Dianne Otto
Book TitleRethinking Peacekeeping, Gender Equality and Collective Security
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityHoundmills, UK

Feminist international legal scholarship is conventionally aimed at addressing the androcentric bias of international law. Its starting point, therefore, is that women have been and continue to be excluded from international law vis-à-vis both its emancipatory and protective potential. As Elisabeth Evatt states, international law ‘shows little concern for women, their interests and their special vulnerabilities’. However, in light of the proliferation of international laws, policies and programmes addressing conflict-related sexual violence over the course of the last two decades, this chapter seeks to add nuance to this claim. More specifically and towards this end, this chapter explores the silencing of male ‘victimhood’ within mainstream international sexual violence discourse. The author makes men's experience of sexual violence in conflict the subject of her chapter, focusing especially on the three representations of masculinity dominant in the sexual violence in conflict discourse: ‘male perpetrator’, ‘strategic ally’ and ‘male victim subject’. Most of her attention goes to the first and last of the three, as their use combines to reinforce the notion of men as always perpetrators and women as always victims. The author acknowledges that possible solutions (gender separate, gender neutral and gender equal approaches) to the negative consequences of this complex interlocking of ideas are neither easy nor effective, at least so far. 

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