Source: (2006) Ethics & International Affairs. 20(2):171-192.
In this essay, we first identify the ways in which women’s interests are disregarded and sacrificed as peace agreements are reached, criminal courts and tribunals are established, and relief efforts are planned. Incorporating reports from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the UN, and news accounts, we assess the ethical problems with what might be called a “perpetrator-centered” approach to coping with conflict’s aftermath that exacerbates and prolongs women’s suffering. Not only do conventional trial procedures dismiss the victims’ trauma and needs as secondary to the process of adjudicating the question of the perpetrator’s guilt, but many also privilege the right of the accused to confront and question the victims over the additional suffering the victims must endure in giving testimony. (2) After delineating the gendered effects of conflict, we then study the operation of compensation boards following recent conflicts. (3) Even in those instances in which rape has been specifically identified and prosecuted as a war crime, existing structures fail to provide significant relief to female victims, as they neglect the underlying social, cultural, and economic practices that reinforce patriarchal systems, and thus hold women accountable for their own victimization; the traditional legalistic models that are typically employed in peace settlements and tribunals simply fail to meet the needs of the victims. (4) Finally, in response to the limitations of peace agreements and tribunals in addressing human suffering, we identify an alternative model for conducting such negotiations and for securing restitution to the victims of wartime abuses and their effects–a “victim-centered” approach to war crimes adjudication and compensation procedures. (excerpt)
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