Women’s Bodies as Battleground by Fanny Zedelius

SoME Gavobevis 2023

26 June 2015

This paper has applied a gender-based theory of sexual violence to the case of the DRC, showing 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 that women and men are expected to live up to 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.

One final remark on the issue of development in this context will conclude this paper. 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 effects on the society as HIV spreads and people lose prospects for livelihood for example. 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.

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