Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1999


Ronit Lentin (1999) 'The Rape of the Nation: Women Narrativising Genocide'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 4, no. 2, <>

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Received: 26/05/99      Accepted: 14/06/99      Published: 30/6/99


In this article I will firstly argue that genocide and wars are gendered but also often feminised via the positioning of women not only as sexual trophies exchangeable between male enemies, not only as markers of collective boundaries, but also as the symbolic representations of national and ethnic collectivities. I will then interrogate the centrality of rape as a component of ethno-sexual identities and an instrument of war, focusing on the difficulties we have ëas womení but also as social scientists, to theorise wartime rape. Finally I will propose that creating a forum for women war victims to narrativise their traumatic experiences is a vital feminist strategy of beginning to close the gap between genocide and gender and between trauma and the discourses available to narrate it.

Femininities; Genocide; Masculinities; Personal Narratives; Power; Rape; War


The Serb soldiers took pregnant women and cut their stomach open and put a knife into the baby... Girls of 16 and 18 were raped in front of their fathers and brothers. Two such girls, sisters, committed suicide after being raped (RTE, 4 May 1999).
'Over 20 girls were taken from our house,' Mrs Trolli said. 'They came back half an hour later. They were crying. Some said they had been raped. With others, we knew they had' (Borger, The Guardian, 1999: 2).
'A Serb soldier wouldn't be interested in raping an Albanian woman, it would be against our nature. Don't get me wrong, there were some pretty ones and even if we did want to, we didn't because the army didn't allow it.' Later his story changes (O'Kane, The Guardian, 1999: 5).

Despite the 'never again' pledge Europeans made in the wake of the Nazi Shoah, contemporary wars and genocides, more recently euphemistically and chillingly called 'ethnic cleansing,' have virtually wafted in and out of our field of vision, playing themselves out on our television screens. As the world's viewership moves uneasily from Rwanda to Bosnia to Iraq to Algeria to Kosovo, one story threads through, that of targeting women in what has begun to be theorised as gendered wars, gendered genocides (cf Lentin, 1997; Yuval-Davis, 1997; Enloe, 1998).

The above three quotes are taken from recent news reports on the war in Kosovo. The first quote is from an Irish television documentary on Kosovar refugees, the second from a Guardian report on a 'rape camp from hell' and the third from a Guardian report on Milan Petrovic, a Serb truck driver from Belgrade whose neighbours call him 'the cleaner.' The three quotes demonstrate that rape as an instrument of war and as an ethnomarker (Rejali, 1998: 30) is alive and well in the gendered constructions of contemporary genocide and war. In this article I aim firstly to (en)gender genocide and war, and to argue that genocide is often feminised through the positioning of women not only as sexual trophies exchangeable between male enemies, not only as markers of collective boundaries, but also as the symbolic representations of national and ethnic collectivities. I then interrogate the centrality of rape, an essential building block of ethno-sexual identities, as an instrument of war. Finally, I wish to propose that women narrativising their traumatic experiences of catastrophe are a vital feminist strategy of closing the 'memory gap' (cf. Grunfeld, 1995; Ringelheim, 1997) between catastrophe and the discourses available to us to narrate it.

The feminisation of genocide

The figure of woman is often the chosen representative image of genocide and war as was demonstrated by the photography of the 'Madonna in Hell' published in October 1997 in the world press.[1] A beautiful, tearful veiled Algerian woman, whose eight children had allegedly been massacred, mouth open and eyes hollow, comforted by another veiled woman, was selected to represent Algeria's grief over the ongoing massacres. Woman as universal victim, motherhood as the epitome of suffering, and shattered female beauty as symbol of 'man's inhumanity to man,' genocidal war's feminised images are served for media consumption as part of a gendered lexicon of victimhood. In 1999, with 'our' current preoccupation with the exodus from Kosovo and the NATO bombing of Serbia, who remembers Algeria and its symbolic 'Madonna'? (Anyway, how many of us stopped to think about the absurdity of giving a Muslim mother so 'Christian' a symbolic tag?)

Genocide has been re-defined by Fein (1993) to include 'the sustained purposeful action by a perpetrator to physically destroy a collectivity directly or indirectly, through interdiction of the biological and social reproduction of group members,' thus (en)gendering genocide, first defined by the Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin (1944) in the wake of the Shoah. As the bearers of the next generation, women are put uniquely at risk as members of a group targeted as 'racially' or 'ethnically' inferior. The definition of genocide must be gendered, to include political projects such as slavery, sexual slavery, mass rape, mass sterilisation, aimed, through women, at the elimination or alteration of a future ethnic group. Wars, genocidal or otherwise, target women in very specific ways due to their social, ethnic and national construction and positioning.

Theorising wars and genocidal projects as gendered may be politically dangerous for the women targeted and for the women researching these processes because we cannot be sure whether fundamentalist regimes which target women as repositories of national and familial shame and honour do not imagine themselves as so unquestionably dominant as not to tolerate critiques that tar them with a genocidal, and much less a gendered, brush.

Genocidal projects, wars and other political processes which result, among other things, in mass population movements are, I argue along the social constructionist position (cf. Sharoni, 1992), the consequence of the construction of masculinity and femininity in society (cf. Connell, 1987). Recent scholarship (e.g. Lorentzen and Turpin, 1998) attests to the shift from theorising the impact of war on women and women's responses to war to the very gendering of war itself. Gender is often the explanation of the way the military reproduces ideological structures of patriarchy 'because the notion of "combat" plays such a central role in the construction of "manhood" and justification of the superiority of maleness in the social order' (Enloe, 1983: 12). While neither femininity nor masculinity are universal propositions, nor is power-positioning common to all masculinities in a monocausal fashion (Mac An Ghaill, 1996:4), Hague (1997) argues, for instance, that the Serb and Bosnian Serb military policy of genocidal rape, constructed a specific type of 'hetero-national masculinity,' and a converse inferior, powerless 'femininity.'

I am not proposing to essentialise 'women' as either a unitary victim group, or as 'more peaceful than men' (cf. Papandreou, 1997), or to accord 'men' the exclusive universal power to inflict war and genocide upon a civilian population of 'womenandchildren' (Enloe, 1990). However, I am proposing to theorise gender, both masculinities and femininities, within the social constructionist framework (cf Kimmel and Messner, 1998: xx), and, by extension, to theorise political processes such as wars and genocides as gendered, thus taking on board the catastrophic consequences for women of such processes, which women as a gender rarely generate.

As international institutions usually turn to armed forces such as NATO and the various UN 'peace keeping' forces for assistance in resolving military conflicts, not only wars, but also their resolution, are gendered. They are both inflicted, and assuaged, by military power, based on a 'hegemonic masculinity' and a military apparatus as a classic dominance-oriented masculine structure (Connell, 1994: 158). Wars affect the situation of people on the 'home front,' where much of the support work tends to be done by women. One of the consequences of war is the creation of 'surplus populations' (Foerstel, 1996). As Yuval-Davis (1997: 109) reminds us, becoming a refugee is a gendered experience, since it is often men who tend to get selected, 'disappear' and get killed, while 80 per cent of the global refugee population is made up of women and children (and old men).[2] The perpetrators are often 'masculinised,' and the victims, though not all women, and though not all women are victims, are 'feminised.'

Following this analysis war must be seen a masculine construction. Genocide, however, is not only gendered, it is also feminised, via the symbolic representation of 'woman' as victim, and via targeting women as mothers, chattels, sexual objects, repositories of family and national honour and shame, and the symbolic representational trope of the nation (cf. Yuval-Davis and Anthias, 1989). Nation as beloved mother, 'the defeated nation being reborn as a triumphant woman' (Boland, 1989: 13), to be defiled, protected, fought for and liberated. As victims and as the symbolic representations of the nation, [3] it is women, not men, who are required to fulfil codes of moral behaviour in times of war, when familial, class, communal, religious and national politics affect the construction of women's familial roles (see Rozario, 1997, in relation to Bangladesh).

An illustration of the feminisation of genocide is the way genocidal projects target women due to their 'biological destiny' as evidenced by Nazi ideology, which, resting on the eugenic conviction of German 'racial superiority', discriminated against women as child bearers. At the same time as they legalised 'race hygiene' by sterilising 400,000 mentally handicapped Germans already in the 1930s (Burleigh, 1995), the Nazis encouraged German women to bear (often illegitimate) children, fathered by SS men and other 'racially valuable' Germans, for the Fatherland (Bock, 1993). During the Shoah, women of child bearing age, although useful to the Nazis as workers, posed a menace because they could bear Jewish (or Roma) children and ensure the continuity the 'racially inferior' groups and were therefore exterminated (Rittner and Roth, 1993). German doctors, serving genocidal interests, experimented with X-rays, injections and drugs, as surgical sterilisations were too expensive, to control the reproduction of Jewish and Roma women (Laska, 1983).

All this illustrates how wars and genocides are always gendered in moulding historically-specific social constructions of masculinities and femininities. But, via the usage of feminine images to represent genocidal events, and via targeting women as the (re)producers of ethnic collectivities, genocides are also feminised, casting women as universal victims, despite the active role they often play in resisting victimisation. That this feminisation belittles the depth of our understanding of genocidal projects is demonstrated, for instance, by describing women and girls as the principal victims of the Rwandan genocide, despite the fact that it was Tutsi men who were the main target of genocide. This also tends to obscure, according to African Rights (1995), women's roles as aggressors. The involvement of women in the genocide and murder of Hutu opponents failed to attract national and international attention, precisely because of the construction of women as the universal victims of the Rwandan genocide.

I shall now turn to interrogating the centrality of rape as an instrument of the gendering of genocidal wars and ask whether, and in what ways, rape offends us more so than other aspects of genocidal projects.

The rape of the nation

Wartime rapes take centre stage in media reports of mass violence perpetrated by powerful opponents on a subordinated population, racialised in the process of military conflict. What I would like to do here is to tease out our difficulties and confusion about grasping the motives behind wartime rape and the realities for large groups of raped women for whom, more often than not, having been 'compromised' by the enemy during periods of violent ethnic conflict, means there is no return to their original communities, since women are viewed as the territories upon which the collectivity's honour and shame reside.

As a woman, it is particularly hard for me to theorise wartime rape. It is hard because rape is about fear, a fear of the dark, as Andrea Dworkin describes the terror after being raped aged nine: 'not "the dark" in its usual symbolic sense, bad, with a racist tinge, but part of the literal dark: his body, almost distinct, got folded into the dark of every night I had to get through, with eyes open, waiting...' (Dworkin, 1997: 23). 'The threat of rape is an assault upon the meaning of the world; it alters the feel of the human condition' (Beneke, 1998: 438). More specifically, as an Israeli woman, male sexuality had always been associated with war and with soldiering men who, while of course not all rapists, often demanded their 'right' as members of the IDA, the strongest 'defence' force in the Middle East. Yet, despite the enormous difficulty of thinking about wartime rape 'as a woman', I am driven, 'as a sociologist,' but also 'as a feminist,' to attempt to fathom the centrality of rape as an instrument of genocide, spurred by the emphasis in media (and, it must be said, academic) discourses of rape as a mechanism of male violence, power and control.

Mass rapes, particularly when accompanied with forced impregnations, have been used as a mechanism of humiliating 'their' women, and of altering the construction of ethnic collectivities in times of war. Yet, despite their ubiquity (and despite, or perhaps because of the common argument about the inevitability of rape as a natural by-product of war, and 'a normal part of what it is to be human, ' see Littlewood, 1997), rape has not been included in histories of warfare until quite recently. There are, however, exceptions to the ubiquity of wartime rape, due to ethnic constructions of superiority and inferiority. Rapes were for instance not used extensively by the Nazis, due to the prohibition to 'fraternise' with 'racially inferior' women, a discourse also re-played by the quote attributed to the Serb 'cleaner' and in the Israeli-Palestinian context. [4]

Rape as a political instrument illustrates poignantly the feminisation of genocidal projects. During the 1970-1 West Pakistani occupation of Bangladesh between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women were raped by the Pakistani army (Rozario, 1997); 25,000 Bengali women became pregnant as a result (Brownmiller, 1975). The claims that it was military policy consciously planned by West Pakistan in order to create a new ethnicity and dilute the Bangladeshi nation, resonates with the genetic warfare employed by the Serb and Bosnian Serb policy of genocidal rape, particularly the version that used forced pregnancy as a kind of biological warfare (Allen, 1996). Discourses of humiliating and exploiting enemy women resonate with the use of Asian women in Japanese army 'comfort stations' during World War II (Sancho, 1997). They resonate with the rape of thousands of Somali refugees by Kenyan soldiers and police, frequently after the scarring of infibulation is cut through by knife or bayonet (African Rights, 1994). They also resonate with reports (cited by Littlewood, 1997) of extensive military and police rape in Central America, Haiti, Burma, Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. In Rwanda between a quarter and half a million Tutsi women were raped in 1994 (Human Rights Watch, 1996). And as the quotes at the start of this article attest, the Bosnian pattern is being replicated in Kosovo.

Theorising wartime rape as a mechanism of gender construction and an ethnomarker, far from being unproblematic, has been fraught with theoretical contradictions. After Bosnia, American feminists extended their theorisation of rape to wartime and genocidal rape, without taking constructions of nation and ethnicity into account. Rejali (1998: 27-9) critiques feminist theorists such as McKinnon, Brownmiller, and Enloe for failing to theorise mass rapes during the war in Bosnia as salient markers of ethnic and racial categories. McKinnon (1993); see also Dworkin, (1997), who analysed pornographic showings of videotaped rapes performed by Serb soldiers, locates rape in male/female dynamics. Brownmiller (1993), on the other hand, locates rape in the conflict between males. Enloe (1993) who researched rape in Central America, posits wartime rape as socialising the new military recruit and separating him permanently from his civilian compatriots, locating rape in male group dynamics.

Seeking to problematise feminist analyses of wartime rape, Rejali cites Horowitz's differentiation between two ethnic systems, 'ranked' - where groups stand in clear superordination or subordination to one another, and 'unranked' - in which each group is potentially a whole society (Horowitz, 1985: 1-92). When ethnic and racial categories are in danger, rape may serve as an instrument of renegotiation and thus constitute an ethnomarker:

When an unranked system collapses, as in Bosnia, women's bodies become a battlefield where men communicate their rape to other men - because women's bodies had been the implicit political battlefield all along (Rejali, 1998: 30).

But of course, rape is not a unitary discourse, nor is it a unitary practice, and, as Rejali argues, its effects differ depending on the society's ethnic makeup. In war situations not only gender, but also ethnicity gain saliency: 'rape in a war context is the means by which differentials of power and identity are defined' (Rejali, 1998: 30).

Littlewood (1997) who argues that ethnic boundaries are made and re-made on women's bodies, rehearses, and rejects, several sets of understandings of military rape. According to the militarism argument, collective sexual violence by men mirrors and exemplifies an ethic of male exceptionalism, violence as masculinity, requiring an elevation of 'our' women in opposition to the degradation of 'theirs.' When a society incorporates images of women as valued or de-valued ideals, sexual violence in war is enacted by men of this everyday set of understandings. The militarism argument, however, fails to explain the increase of sexual violence at times of ambiguity, or the occasional participation of women in sexual violence. According to the transgressive argument, military rape is the result of absolute desire, usually checked by society, which is unleashed through the opportunities of war. This argument, however, presumes all men are inherent rapists limited only by societal values. Because neither the militaristic nor the transgressive arguments explain why sexual violence, Littlewood tries biosocial explanations to propose that while wartime anxiety and fear are not conducive to male sexual arousal, most rapes occur after the battle is over and are linked to notions of spoils of war, which include the reward of 'alien' women.

Although Littlewood says these are but partial and complementary explanations, I have huge problems theorising rape as 'sexual violence.' I much prefer Boric's (1997) approach to wartime rape as 'gender violence,' taking into account constructions of gender and eschewing the temptation to eroticise a horrific crime. In relation to wartime rape, constructions of gender must be intersected with racialisation processes if we are to begin to understand rape as a strategy of making and re-making boundaries on women's bodies, and hence to theorise women as national and ethnic subjects whose symbolic positionings mark the ever-shifting geo-conceptual boundaries of 'the nation.' Indeed, as we are beginning to understand, wartime rape is not only about sex, nor only about power, but about the social construction of gender and, in times of war, about the gendered constructions of ethnicity and nation.

I find Hague's (1997) theorisation of the mass rapes in Bosnia in terms of constructing a hetero-nationalism much more precise, if more disturbing. Again, arguing beyond feminist understandings of rape which he criticises for being a-historical and universal, and for assuming that the rape victim is always a woman, Hague links constructions of gender and ethncity to argue that

the Serb and Bosnian Serb military policy of genocidal rape imagined, and then constructed a specific type of masculinity, consistently aggressive, violent, powerful and dominating (Hague, 1997: 53).

Hague goes on to argue that the powerful Serb masculinity that genocidal rape constructed operated through the feminisation of the rape victim, male or female, combining heterosexual military masculinity with constructions of Serb superiority to create a hetero-nationality, a different national identity from that of the rape victim (Hague, 1997:54).

At the risk of repeating myself: raping the enemy's women is never only about sex (or 'sexual violence' or even 'gender violence'), nor only about 'the power that men have over women' (Dworkin, 1993: 14). Nor is wartime rape only about men sullying enemy men's property, nor even only about altering, via women's wombs, the composition of the enemy collectivity. There is something larger at stake. War itself is rape. Wartime rape is about taking the enemy's territory, as has been made patently obvious in military discourses equating enemy territory with a woman's body in need of (both military and romantic) conquest (Sharoni, 1992). And, although feminist theory and experience tells us that violence committed against women in wartime replicates and continues violence against women at peacetime, and although the stories of the rapes in Bosnia, used in political games employed the symbolism of woman only when politically necessary (Boric, 1997: 39), wartime rape must be ultimately seen also as the rape of the nation. Boric cites Zagreb journalist and feminist activist Vesna Kesic:

A raped Croatian woman is a raped Croatia. Here was a mystic unity of woman and the country identified through her. Once again, the nation's identity is established through women's bodies. The consequence of equating the raped woman with the 'dishonoured' country is that all members of the 'enemy' army are viewed as rapists - not just those who started the war, the politicians, the generals and the exponents of systematic rape in aid of 'ethnic cleansing.' There are no individual culprits, but the whole nation, including its women, is culpable (Kesic, 1995).

But I must take myself to task for theorising rape as an abstract phenomenon, writing 'as a sociologist,' perhaps a more comfortable stance, when I really want to write 'as a woman' about the implications, for women, of telling and re-telling about wartime rape. I now turn to the crucial part women's narratives of trauma play in the healing process, despite the difficulties we, those who have not lived through the 'dark' of wartime rape, have in hearing them.

Gendered narratives: closing the memory gap?

One elderly woman from Mijlan said that, on the third night, the police entered the house of Avdi T., shining a flashlight in the faces of the women, many of whom were trying to cover their heads with their scarves. They found one woman and said, 'you come with us.' She returned, approximately two hours later and, when asked what happened, said, 'don't ask me anything' (B.a.B.e Women's Human Rights Group, Zagreb, 1999).

Traumatic experiences are often dealt with by banishing them from consciousness: survivors of catastrophe often silence themselves or are silenced by society. Funkenstein (1993:22) argues, for instance, that the memory of Shoah survivors is fragmented; although many survivors wanted to remember, they had been robbed of their identity by the Nazis. This was reiterated by French Shoah survivor Charlotte Delbo, who links 'memory' and 'self': 'since Auschwitz, I always feared losing my memory. To lose one's memory is to lose one's self' (Delbo, 1995: 188).

The feminist strategy of women's personal narratives can be employed as a means of making sense of genocidal wars. Butalia (1997) has been recording women's oral histories in relation to the partition of India, during which some 75,000 women are thought to have been raped or abducted by men of religions different to their own, and around which memories are constructed and communal strife is measured. She argues that women's personal narratives not only explain the past, but also aid us in acting in the present and looking to the future. Beyond official accounts of partition, and beyond women's silences, Butalia attempts to disentangle the web of women's experiences.

However, as Ringelheim (1985) cautions, merely excavating women's wartime experiences, hidden from history as they might be, runs the risk of falling into the trap of 'cultural feminism,' if we do not contextualise these experiences within the constructions of gender, and nation.

The search for discourses for telling traumatic events such as wartime rape requires establishing a delicate balance between silence and the duty to tell, since remembering and 'memorising' catastrophe always includes the temptation to succumb to silence: 'don't ask me anything.' Grunfeld (1995) posits a 'memory gap' between the material, embodied immediate knowledge of trauma and the discursive, mediated memories that follow. More specifically, Ringelheim (1997) writes of the split memory between genocide and gender, split between traditional versions of history and women's own experiences. Split memory is a metaphor that represents the barriers against the inclusion of gender in analyses of war and genocide.

The feminisation of genocide often belittles the depth of the trauma and belies male anxieties about the assumed infringement of the collectivity's honour which is invariably seen as residing in women's, not men's, bodies. The feminist strategy of employing women's personal narratives as primary sources is one way of making visible women's experiences of victimisation and resistance in our scholarship and writing. It is also a way of de-linking the feminised images and the larger political context of genocide, restoring women's agency and re-claiming the depth of the trauma, not from a site of a collectivity's honour, but from women's own human experiences.

Images of raped Bosnian, and now Kosovar, women take central place in media accounts of the war in the Balkans in order to emphasise Serb inhumanity (and thus justify NATO's intervention?) Boric argues that 'the visibility of the atrocities against women was misused many times. The media was bloodthirsty in relation to Bosnia: pale children from Sarajevo's basements followed by ghostly men from Manjaca and other detention camps, were "spiced" by pictures and testimonies of raped women, all feeding the public's hunger for a day or two' (Boric, 1997: 39). This is replicated in media headlines about mass rapes in Kosovo. Does this preoccupation emanate from a pornographisation of genocide, as Dworkin would argue? Or does wartime rape evoke that 'fear of the dark' in women, but also in men for whom rape as a metaphor of penetration, of the theft of 'our' women, and of the 'infringed nation' is so terrifying that exaggerating it via media discourses is the only way of confronting that 'dark' while at the same not hearing?

In Bosnia, women have organised (in bodies such as Medica and the Zagreb-based Centre for Women War Victims, amongst others) to enable rape victims to tell their stories, and to rehabilitate their lives. In the wake of other wars, where rapes were just as widespread, it was often the men who were accorded sympathy as suffering from post-traumatic stress resulting from the atrocities they themselves committed. Littlewood (1997) argues that images of tortured and brutalised bodies, amongst them bodies of raped and violated 'enemy' women which figured in the nightmares of many Vietnam veterans, allowed these men to be constructed as victims rather than perpetrators. I wonder what role do images of sexual mutilation and torture play in the post-war, post-rape lives of these veterans' female victims?

It is hugely difficult to make sense of the sexual exploitation and victimisation of women in times of war, not simply because of the difficulties of theorising rape in general 'as women', but also because of the implications of sexual exploitation for survivors and for the societies to which they return after the war. Ringelheim (1997: 27), argues that her failure to ask a Shoah survivor for details of having been raped in Auschwitz illustrates how deeply researchers may not want to hear and about the ways we avoid listening no matter how directly a survivor (male or female) may tell us what happened. Listening to accounts of rape and sexual exploitation confronts us with our own sexual vulnerability 'as women.' And for family members:

The rape of mothers, grandmothers, sisters, friends or lovers... is difficult to face. The further possibility that mothers or sisters or lovers 'voluntarily' used sex for food or protection is equally difficult to absorb... but to dismiss situations that relate so specifically to women makes it impossible to begin to understand the victimisation of women (Ringelheim, 1997: 25).

If wars are gendered, so are peace processes, negotiated by military men (Lentin, 1998) and involving compromises between the warring factions, the end result of which is that civilian populations, mostly women and children often separated from their men, spend years, sometime decades, as refugees in foreign lands. When they return, they have to rebuild a healthy demography of the vanquished, 'raped' nation in a war-scarred country.

There are no closures, nor happy endings to genocidal wars in which, amongst other things, thousands of women are raped by the enemy by way of marking boundaries and altering the ethnic composition of the collecticity. Wartime gender violence cannot be undone, and, in many societies, its victims are stigmatised by their very sexual victimisation (cf Rozario, 1997). However, on the level of memorisation and commemoration, some things can be done. The first is inscribing wartime rape into the accounts of wars beyond voyeuristic media discourses. The other is creating a space for women war victims to close the memory gap between the trauma of rape and the discourses available to tell it. Beyond victim-hood and universal subordination, theorising the construction of gender and perceptions of masculinity and femininity in tandem with constructions of nation, offers a forum for feminist social scientists and activists to break the silence and close the memory gap between war, genocide and discourse, and between gender and genocide and thus em-body experience which is at the heart of feminist epistemological processes (cf Stanley, 1996). By (en)gendering genocide we not only enhance and deepen our knowledge, we also put women's claims to be heard, and be compensated for past injuries, firmly on the feminist political agenda.


1The photograph was taken by an Algerian photographer who wished to be identified only by his first name, Hocine, and wired by AFP.

2By the end of 1992 more than 46 million people had lost their homes; about 36 million were women and girls (Hauchler and Kennedy, 1994, cited by Turpin, 1998: 4).

3See, for example, descriptions of Algeria as woman: 'Algeria-woman is Algeria which does not want to fall into the hands of the enemies so as not to be reduced to slavery and subjugation, which does not want to be possessed by others... and would rather be dead than be possessed by others' (Dejeux, 1987, cited by Cherifati-Merbatine, 1994: 51). Another example is the gendering of Britain and Ireland (see Innes, 1993).

4Azzouni Mahshi (1995:8) reports of several imprisoned Palestinian women raped with a stick, 'the implication being that they were not worthy of being touched.


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