The global, the ethnic and the gendered war:: Women, rape and dispossesion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore and illuminate the perspectives and experiences of women of sexual violence perpetrated in the conflict, defined as a ‘new war’ in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘New wars’ indicative of the changing nature of warfare, target civilians and involve raping, looting and pillaging.
Design: The paper is based on eleven qualitative semi-structured interviews and four written narratives collected from women of reproductive age, recruited from a variety of organizations providing support after sexual violation. This study departs from a larger ethnographic project investigating the phenomenon of war-rape. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data through the theoretical lenses of structural violence and intersectionality.
Results: Women expressed total insecurity and a multitude of losses from bodily integrity, health and loss of family, life course possibilities, livelihoods and a sense of place/belonging; a profound dispossession of identity and marginalization. Pregnancies resulting from rape reinforced stigma and burdened the survivor with difficult decisions concerning raising a stigmatized child on the margins of society. Perpetrators of rape were most commonly identified as Interhamwes (Rwandan Hutu rebels) whose goal was to spread HIV, impregnate and claim Congolese women, thereby destroying families and society.
Conclusion: Sexually violated women survivors of war experience profound losses. Congo’s conflict reflective of ‘new wars’ involving global, ethnic and gendered dimensions requires imperative critical reflection on how these local wars and subsequent human suffering are situated in a matrix of globalization processes enabled by transnational actors and embedded in structural violence.
sexual violence, gender, new wars, Democratic Republic of Congo, structural violence, globalization
Medical and Health Sciences Social Sciences
Research subject Caring Sciences in Social Sciences; International Health
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-204436OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-204436DiVA: diva2:639037
ProjectsPhD project investigating phenomena of war-rape in Democratic Republic of Congo