Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

“In material terms, of course, armed conflicts are often about the expansion of male-owned power-bases, including access to land, minerals, and other resources such as oil. To my mind, therefore, the very notion of “war” needs to be interrogated before one looks at the set of questions at hand. For gangs of youngsters on the Cape Flats, or gangs of criminals in Johannesburg, one could say that, irrespective of the official status of the country as a whole, their lives are characterized by perpetual warfare, and indeed that is the language they themselves employ. The metaphor of war dominates their lives and so crowds out other possibilities for them. South Africa as a nation-state need not be at war with any other state for these young men to inhabit, on a permanent basis, a parallel universe that constitutes a war zone. Built into the rhetoric of war is the notion or value of survival, which legitimizes conduct that would not be permissible otherwise. In other words, war per definition entails an exceptional situation or period that calls for exceptional sacrifices and exceptional conduct.”

A roundtable discussion…



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