CSiW – Forced Marriage in War

This SSHRC funded Partnership Grant will document cases of so-called forced marriage in conflict situations, place this data in historical context, and impact the international prosecution of crimes against humanity as well as local reparations programs for survivors of violence. With the central participation of community-based organizations in Africa, this project will strengthen women’s and organizations’ capacity to prevent violence, and advance understanding of the use of conjugal slavery as a tool of war through evidence-based research.

Building on the success of an existing SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (Bunting 2011) and insights gained by the partners over the past four years, this interdisciplinary team of researchers and partners will explore the social and legal meaning of conjugal slavery or servile marriage in times of war and the implications of this gender violence in post-conflict situations. Through archival, qualitative, and legal research this Partnership will explore the experiences of men and women who were subject to or participated in enslavement in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda, and Mali. These countries are chosen based on existing collaborations and knowledge. Partners in these and other countries will mobilize the research for public education/ active history, reparations, and law reform. This Partnership is interdisciplinary, historical and comparative – with 10 Partners and 20 participants from 10 countries, the team includes academics and civil society organizations.

Based on the empirical and archival research conducted to date with the support of the PDG (and an IDRC grant), a number of important themes have emerged which demand further attention. In particular, the Partners aim to fill these gaps in knowledge and contribute to:

  1. Research on men’s experiences of ‘forced marriage’ (being ordered to be violent) and masculinity in these conflicts;
  2. The need for deeper qualitative research on the relationship between wartime violence and existing/ historical gender norms;
  3. The post-conflict impact of stigma on children born of war;
  4. And finally, the ongoing debates about the effectiveness of the tribunals and commissions, including government and international reparations programs.