Gendering Security

Authored by: Laura J. Shepherd

The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies

Print publication date:  January  2010
Online publication date:  January  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484374
eBook ISBN: 9780203859483
Adobe ISBN: 9781135166205


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In June 2008, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to accept Resolution 1820, in which the Council ‘Notes that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide’ and, further, ‘Demands the immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians with immediate effect’ (UNSC 2008: Articles 3–4, emphasis in original). Building on the adoption and implementation of Resolution 1325 (UNSC 2000; see Shepherd 2008a), it is clear from the adoption of Resolution 1820 that the Security Council considers sexual violence during periods of armed conflict to be a matter of grave concern for the international community. Acknowledging that sexual violence matters in the study of security is, however, different from understanding what it means and how, as scholars of security, we might endeavour to engage critically with, for example, rape as a weapon of war. From the camps housing internally displaced persons in Darfur come distressingly familiar tales of rape being used by the Janjawid militia as a disciplinary measure and as a collective deterrent: ‘They took K.M., who is 12 years old … More than six people used her as a wife; … K, another woman … was captured by the Janjawid who slept with her in the open place, all of them slept with her’ (A., a farmer from Um Baru, cited in Amnesty International 2004: 12; see also UNOHCHR 2007; Amnesty International 2008: 8–11). It does not take an expert on gender and security to point out that the rape of a 12-year-old girl by more than six people is abhorrent. However, in this chapter I use this example to illustrate three different ways in which rape in war, and, by extension, gender and security, can be understood.

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