Stigmatization and Social Death of Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence

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Abstract Wartime sexual violence leaves many survivors deeply stigmatized and deprived of emotional, social, and financial support. Evidence suggests that stigmatization is often the most life-altering and destructive aspect of sexual violence. It calls for a deeper examination of how stigmatization is experienced by the survivors and from where the stigma emanates. Based on the concept of social death and its three constitutive components: loss of social identity, loss of social relationships, and loss of social vitality, this article explores the experience of stigmatization by men and women survivors in the Central African Republic. The analysis shows that stigmatization can be so severe that it resembles social death for some survivors and that the stigma is deeply informed by gendered understandings of identity, social status, and appropriate behavior. Stigmatization works as a social punishment for not “doing” one's gender correctly and therefore threatens gendered power hierarchies, demonstrating how gender structures play a key role in the production of stigmatization. The insight from this study contributes to the emerging field of feminist peace research by pointing at how sexual violence stigma is a continuation of gendered violence which travels between wartime and peacetime and perpetuates the experience of violence for the survivors.
TidsskriftGlobal Studies Quarterly
Udgave nummer2
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2023

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