Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

Women's bodies as battleground

09/09/2015 08:48
Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Fanny Zedenius

"Women's bodies as battleground - Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" by Fanny Zedenius has applied a gender-based theory of sexual violence to the case of the DRC. The investigation shows that women are targeted in the conflict both as a result of gender dynamics in militarism (hypermasculinity and feminised dependents) and due to the socially ascribed gender roles - which confines women to the private sphere and men to the public. The traditional gender norms in the DRC explain why women and girls represent the majority of the victims of sexual violence. Furthermore, it has been argued that women’s traditional exclusion from political participation is intensified through sexual violence as victims are stigmatized and left by their husbands and excluded from communities.

Fanny continues by linking the issue of how gender-based violence affects women's political participation to a broader topic about development and globalization. As the widespread use of sexual violence continues in the DRC, the prospects for peace and stabile social and economic development are non-existent. The enormous physical and emotional damages that this violence causes have devastating social effects upon the society. Moreover, sexual violence is a result of unequal gender norms, and in order to achieve sustainable development mainstreaming gender equality and promoting women’s empowerment is crucial. Therefore, tackling the underlying gender norms will be central in combating sexual violence in the DRC, and here women should be at the forefront.

Read the full essay to take part of Fanny's research.

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