Women, Armed Conflicts, and Violence: An IHL and Indian Legal Perspective

Women, Armed Conflicts, and Violence: An IHL and Indian Legal Perspective

Rajamanickam Srinivasan (Pondicherry University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4778-5.ch024
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Abstract

Women, peace, and conflict have remained in focus ever since the end of the Holocaust days. UN Platform for Action 1995 recognized that women are specifically affected by armed conflict because of their unequal status in society and their sex. When the intent is to destroy a culture, women are selectively targeted to symbolize superiority, and induce humiliation in defeated men. Apart from the gender specific effects on women, armed conflicts impose severe strain on economy. It is evident that protecting women during conflict situations therefore makes sound economic sense, apart from the humanitarian obligation that it invites. In this backdrop, this chapter examines the provisions of international humanitarian law and India's domestic legal instruments from the point of view of their brief contents and intents. It sums up the examination of legal framework by advocating social awareness and societal subscription to practice what is preached.
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Part I: Effects Of Conflicts On Women

Till the Great War, hardly a thought was spared on the actual impact of the means and methods on non-warring populations. Though such thought process commenced earlier in1864 and resulted in the Hague Conventions 1949(Gasser, 1998), violence perpetrated on the populations by warring factions remained out of the focus of universal consensus. Despite the Geneva Law that brought this issue into center stage under the Fourth Convention, there again remained a vast gap between the law and its practice (Balachandran & Varghese, 1999). In the process, violence against specific groups, particularly women came to be viewed as an inevitable, though regrettable, consequence of war (Stark, Warner, Lehmann, Boothby, & Ager, 2013). Such an attitude also encouraged perpetrators of violence and compounded the sufferings of women. However, with the establishment of International Criminal Tribunals Yugoslavia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone and the provisions of International Criminal Code that attributed the crime of sexual violence against women as an instrument of genocide, a form of torture and as a crime against humanity, these notions are changing (Krill, 2001; Koenig, Lincoln, & Groth, 2011). Be that as it may, in order to understand the actual impact of conflicts on women an appreciation of the kind and extent of violence on women is necessary.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ethnic Cleansing: Are the acts of state armed forces or sponsored groups specifically targeting a particular ethnic group with the intent of obliterating their ethnicity from a region by killing, mass rapes or such other acts endangering the survival of the ethnic identity of the target population.

Trafficking: Means transporting women within or outside national boundaries for the purpose of sexually exploiting them for monetary gains, by private persons or national/subnational groups. The term includes sexual slavery.

International Criminal Court: Is the court established by the charter under Rome Statute 1998 having competency to try offences relating to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Women: For the purpose of this paper means adult, adolescent, and minor persons of feminine gender.

Genocide: Means killing a large population for reasons of its ethnic identity or religious belief or cultural orientation by an armed group belonging to a state or another group of different ethnicity, religion, or culture.

Domestic Violence: Domestic violence means physical acts of violence or threats of grievous injury including sexual assault intended or perpetrated on women and girls in their own household or immediate neighborhood by people who are normally expected to protect them.

Displaced Persons: Means persons of purely civilian character who are driven from their home and hearth on threats of physical violence, murder, rape including for reasons of their ethnicity during armed conflicts in their home region/state.

Armed Conflicts: In the context of this paper, armed conflicts mean war between sovereign nations as well as acts of aggression, internal conflicts (civil war) and armed action by sovereign armies on insurgent groups, ethnic minority groups, etc.

Economic Impact: Is the tangible cost of the violence perpetrated on groups or ethnicities which otherwise could have been put to sustaining livelihoods in the region. It includes cost of reconstruction and rehabilitation by national and international agencies.

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