n Institute for Security Studies Papers - The international politics of rape, sex and the family in Sierra Leone

Volume 2009, Issue 203
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



This paper builds on the work of feminist theorists and points out that mainstream depictions of war are among the most glaring examples of the exclusion of the experiences and voices of women. The paper represents a portion of research conducted over a two month period in Sierra Leone at the end of 2005, when over 50 female soldiers in Makeni between the ages of 18 and 32 were interviewed. It details five areas of silence that need to be exposed, highlights the stigma associated with wartime rape, and argues that by not identifying rape as a tactic of war and discussing children born of rape, these issues become relegated to the margins of conflict, development and security studies. The paper depicts insights that have been largely absent from dominant discourses on the war in Sierra Leone and calls for the recognition of the multiple types of violence and insecurity that women and children face both during and after conflict. The transitional recovery period provides a critical opportunity for the positive transformation of gender relations. Understanding and acknowledging women's experiences of conflict is crucial to achieving representative and effective post-conflict policies.

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