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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sexual violence in Sierra Leone's civil war: 'virgination', rape, and marriage
Author:Marks, Zoe
Year:2014
Periodical:African affairs: the journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Volume:113
Issue:450
Pages:67-87
Language:English
Geographic term:Sierra Leone
Subjects:sexual offences
civil wars
women
Link:http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/113/450/67.full.pdf
Abstract:Rape and sexual violence loom large in the study of civil war in Africa. Sierra Leone has been one of the most prominent cases for establishing rape as a 'weapon of war', yet little is known about how sexual violence was understood by commanders or combatants within the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Mainstream analyses of armed groups and civil war rarely engage with gender dynamics, despite their centrality to war making, power, and violence; and research that does focus on sexual violence tends to overlook the complex internal dynamics of the groups responsible. This article examines the internal gender dynamics of the RUF from the perspective of male and female members in seeking to understand the perpetration of sexual violence. It shows that both formal and informal laws and power structures existed to regulate gender relations and control sexual behaviour within the group. It identifies four categories of women - non-wives, unprotected wives, protected wives, and senior women - and shows that women's interests and experiences of sexual violence were not homogeneous, but were instead shaped by their status within the group. In this way, sexual violence, examined in social context, provides an entry point for understanding how power, protection, and access to resources are brokered in rebellion. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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