Feminism, Sexual Violence, and Development Practice in Africa

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 9:10 AM
Armitage Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Pamela F. Scully, Emory University
This paper examines the recent history of development, at the intersection of international and local feminist activism against sexual violence against women.  It explores the ways in which second wave feminist definitions and understandings of sexual violence helped frame the development initiatives used to combat gender based violence in refugee and post-conflict settings, particularly Liberia. The paper focuses on the period from 1993 to the mid 2000s. Sources include policy documents and templates for working in sexual violence of International NGOs, interviews with activists in NGOs, and secondary sources exploring the humanitarian aid industries and the neo-liberal turn from the 1990s.  The paper argues that development practitioners in leading international non-governmental organizations, assumed universal categories and meanings of womanhood, gender, ethics, and also thus what solutions should be applied to end sexual violence. Thus, they arrived in post-conflict settings such as Sierra Leone and Liberia with models emanating from the specific history of organizing rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and working within an established state and judicial system.  I suggest however that such models assumed the very categories that needed to be examined, and thus instituted models far removed from the concerns of the women they sought to help.
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