The Use of Sexual and Gender Based Violence as a War Strategy in Bosnian War
Daştan, Vesile Nur
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Certain radical changes in the international system have paved the way for a transition from traditional perspectives defining the concept of security as state’s security to alternative perspectives putting emphasis on human security. One of these alternative perspectives is feminist theory. Feminist theory, as a perspective that advocates equality between men and women in all aspects of life, addresses the issues of human security but specifically women’s security by including the concepts of women and gender to the field of security, which is assumed as male-dominated. The discriminations and assaults that women confront with in their daily lives due to their gender become even more serious during the wartime. One of the major threats to women’s security in wartime is sexual and gender based violence. Especially in civil wars erupted by ethnic, national or religious reasons, civilians and predominantly women have become the target of the enemy. In these civil wars, rape serves as a war weapon to gain superiority to the opposing group. Bosnian war is the most significant example in terms of the use of rape as a war tool and strategic tactic. This war is also a turning point for prevention of the use of rape as a strategic tool in wartime by international law bodies. For this reason, this study examines how the rape is turned into a war weapon by using female body as a battleground in the ethnic cleansing project that Serbs attempted to defeat Bosnian Muslims, send them from their lands and destroy the ethnic purity of future generations. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to show sexual and gender based violence was used as a strategic tool in Bosnian war. The continuation of sexual violence and rape in the conflicts after the Bosnian war reveals the necessity to revise this issue.