When Do We Get to Peace? Patterns of Gender-Based Violence in Post-Conflict Liberia
Bruno, Emily K.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: The research sought to understand some of the ranges of experiences of women and girls in post-conflict societies by examining the types, frequency, and nature of gender violence that women and girls experience in post-conflict Liberia. Given the nature and s... read morecale of sexual violence during the fourteen year civil conflict, what are the patterns of gender violence in post-conflict Liberia? Has sexual violence continued, and, if so, who is affected and how? Does the potential continuation of sexual violence reflect an attempt by men to reassert their authority and control over women and in society? Has there been an increase in domestic violence since the end of the war, and if so, is this in any way correlated with men pushing back on women and the public spaces and roles they filled in political, economic, and social life during the war? In light of post-conflict violence and poverty, what opportunities exist for women to mobilize in prevention and response to gender violence, and what barriers to justice exist for women and girls? Can we document any effective models for resistance to violence from the Liberian context? Given the frameworks that we have for understanding gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, this research seeks to understand what the reported violence in Liberia says about the aftermath of war for Liberian women and society in general. While this research was primarily exploratory in nature, I undertook it with a hypothesis that there has been an increase in domestic violence since the war ended, as has been documented in other post-conflict countries, and that women and communities may not have the access to services or criminal justice systems that they need in order to address the post-conflict violence. Additionally, because many Liberian women were extremely politically active in spearheading the Liberian peace movement and negotiations, I hypothesized that there would be tension around women's post-conflict social, economic, and political roles, which may cause violence between men and women at the inter-personal level.read less