Sexual violence as a weapon of war, ensuring effective redress for victims in post-conflict situations

  • Jean De Dieu Sikulibo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

All too often in situations of armed conflicts, rape and other acts of sexual violence are used as a military tactic. The use of sexual violence as an element of war strategies is distinctively destructive, and not only leaves victims with significant challenges to cope with their victimisation but also tears apart the fabric of families and affected communities. Challenges facing victims in post-conflict settings are often compounded by the socio-cultural contexts in which such crimes are committed. In fact, the dynamics of conflict-related sexual violence are often highly entrenched within local contexts, making these crimes not only an effective weapon for destroying the lives of individual victims but also add a new component to the social disruption, and exacerbate the devastating impact of armed conflicts on affected communities. This research contributes to the current debate on mechanisms to ensure effective redress for victims of sexual violence as a weapon of war. It adds to the growing literature on the issue in two ways: First, it explores the distinct aspects of these crimes to understand the nature and extent of the needs of the victims in post-conflict settings. Second,it examines the challenges and limitations of international criminal justice in dealing with a wide range of the victims' needs, and provides critical insight into how such limitations can be addressed through domestic transitional justice processes. This study demonstrates that, despite recent developments in international criminal justice with respect to victims, the international criminal justice system is faced with significant limitations in its effort of providing justice and redress to victims of sexual violence as a military tactic, requiring alternative transitional justice processes to complement it domestically. It argues that effective redress for victims of sexual violence as a weapon of war demands more than addressing the victims' justice and reparative needs but also to attend to the complex social dimensions of these crimes. The study, therefore, further explores the strengths and weaknesses of an increasing range of domestic transitional justice approaches to accountability and reconciliation and demonstrates their potential in advancing effective redress for victims of such crimes. The thesis advances an argument that, considering the nature and patterns of sexual violence as a weapon of war, a full range of transitional justice processes must be considered to address the dynamics and complex impact of these crimes on victims and affected communities. The pursuit of redress must include an element of societal change to empower victims and breakdown a myriad of social impacts on them after conflicts. This study is a significant contribution toward understanding of a holistic response to the needs of victims and societies torn apart by mass sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Date of Award9 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorHakeem Yusuf (Supervisor) & Cyrus Tata (Supervisor)

Cite this

'