African Anthropology Seminar & Centre for Gender Research: Carol Berger “South Sudan's sexualised violence and the limits of 'empowerment': ethnicised conflict and the rape of 'communal property'”
Carol Berger, University of Oxford, will deliver the lecture “South Sudan's sexualised violence and the limits of 'empowerment': ethnicised conflict and the rape of 'communal property'”.
The seminar is open to all, including bachelor and master students. No registration is required. After the seminar, drinks and snacks will be served in our lunchroom.
Sexualised violence has become part of the systemic debasement of perceived enemies in many parts of South Sudan. The current civil war, which began in December 2013, has divided the population along ethnic lines: specifically, Dinka and Nuer peoples. The rape and mutilation of civilians, both female and male, has become a norm among militarised forces. In this presentation, I address the use of sexualised violence and review the strategy of Western humanitarian interventions aimed at preventing gender-based violence. I argue that these interventions may, in fact, be exacerbating the situation. The humanitarian narrative focuses on “empowering” women and girls. Dominant cultures within South Sudan, however, see their female members as communal property. Because of this worldview, the rape of women and girls is a means of exacting revenge against entire communities. The assaults and grievous acts express the intent of the attackers to a) emasculate males from the targeted communities, b) lower the asset value of women within their communities, as raped women will command a lower number of cattle upon marriage, and c) destroy the ability of women from these communities to reproduce.