Women are disproportionately impacted by violence and civil war in multiple ways, including rape and other sexual violence which is of increasing international concern
in sub-Saharan Africa. These women face psychological trauma, social ostracism, economic disadvantage and lasting health problems, including HIV/AIDS. Social stigma, internal displacement and widowhood increase female-headed households and isolate women from family and other kinship ties. Patriarchal systems continue to marginalise women’s rights.
Evidence suggests that transitional justice measures are not adequately engaging with women to address these issues. Emerging literature examining women’s experiences in prosecutions of rape as a war crime critique whether such prosecutions actually deliver ‘justice’ for women. Transitional justice prosecutions treat rape in war as exceptional and are offender focused rather than woman-centred, leaving rape and GBV perpetrated by others un- or under-prosecuted.
Testifying at a prosecution can endanger women including through re-traumatisation and real risks to her and her family; and, injustices against women not involving direct GBV can be under-recognised and under attended in transitional justice. Traditional informal approaches to transitional justice are also criticised for failing to address the rights and needs of women because of existing patriarchal structures. Justice for women has also been identified as missing in truth commissions.
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“Transitional justice to me means telling the truth and devising solutions to settle matters in an amicable way"
28 year old former abductee - Northern Uganda
Kenya / Photo Credit : Kate Holt/ActionAid