Agger, Inger. “Sexual Torture of Political Prisoners: An Overview.” Journal of Traumatic Stress Vol. 2, Vol. 3, 1989. Permission to republish granted by Springer.
Inger Agger is a licensed clinical psychologist with an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Social Science from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She has worked as a
psychologist for torture victims and refugees, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT), Research Department.
WIth experience in the clinical treatment of refugees and torture victims, Agger aims to connect research conducted on sexually tortured political prisoners, and the treatment for their resulting trauma. In conjunction to this material, she claims that sexual torture is not only traumatic, but also threatens and degrades the victims’ core identity and psychological state. Using transcultural references, Agger presents important methods and interventions in physically and mentally treating sexual torture victims.
Variation in Sexual Violence during War. Variation in Sexual Violence during War
Sexual violence during war varies in extent and takes distinct forms. In some conflicts, sexual violence is widespread, yet in other conflicts—including some cases of ethnic conflict—it is quite limited. In some conflicts, sexual violence takes the form of sexual slavery; in others, torture in detention. I document this variation, particularly its absence in some conflicts and on the part of some groups. In the conclusion, I explore the relationship between strategic choices on the part of armed group leadership, the norms of combatants, dynamics within small units, and the effectiveness of military discipline.
Tétreault, Mary Ann. “The Sexual Politics of Abu Gharib: Hegemony, Spectacle, and the Global War on Terror.” NWSA Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, Feminist Perspectives on Peace and War: Before and After 9/11 (Fall 2006), pp. 33-50. Permission to republish granted by Mary Ann Tetreault.
Mary Ann Tétreault is a Una Chapman Cox Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, and a professor in the Political Science department at Trinity University, Texas. Prior to teaching, she received her bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College, and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Rice University. Her research focuses mainly on linking women’s roles and experiences to various global theories.
In this article, Tétreault addresses the maltreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as was revealed through a series of photographs of US military personnel torturing Iraqi prisoners and forcing them to perform sexualized acts. She contextualizes this analysis alongside of a discussion of US global dominance, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The author ultimately challenges the omission of responsibility on behalf of the US public and US officials and their minimization of the documented torture, while asserting a sense of justice against a deemed “enemy.”
Aretxaga, Begona. “The Sexual Games of the Body Politic: Fantasy and State Violence in Northern Ireland.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 25: 1-27, 2001. Permission to republish granted by Kluwer Academic Publishers - Springer.
Begoña Aretxaga has been a member of the Anthropology department at the University of Texas at Austin since 1998. After completing a bachelor's degree in 1983 (in Philosophy and Psychology) and a master's degree in 1985 (in Cultural Anthropology) at the University of Basque Country, Spain, she came to the United States for further graduate training, receiving a second master's degree in Anthropology in 1988 and a doctorate in 1992.
Aretxaga’s article analyzes the practice of strip searching female political prisoners in Northern Ireland as a means of breaking their political identity. Using the 1992 case study of a mass strip search, she argues that these searches constitute a gendered form of political domination through sexual violence.
Seifert, Ruth. “The Second Front: The Logic of Sexual Violence in Wars.” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 19, Nos.1/2, pp. 35-43, 1996. Permission to republish granted by Elsevier.
Ruth Seifert was a clinical psychiatrist that worked in a number of hospital psychiatric units. She completed her postgraduate training in 1973 at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Joint Hospital. Seifert was often known as a leading light for women in psychiatry, as she went on to become a MRCPsych (1975) and FRCPsych (1998), and was Deputy Chairman of the Barts Medical Council. Although she was not an academic, she wrote several case reports and served as an invaluable second opinion across the clinical spectrum.
With reference to the gender-specific atrocities committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Seifert’s article focuses on the circumstance of sexual violence, particularly mass rape, in war. The objective of the text, as the author explains, is to analyze more deeply the ways in which collective sexual violence against women reflects cultural implications and functions. By destroying the physical and psychological existence of women, Seifert argues that this trauma transcends individuality, thus indicating a symbolic meaning behind sexual violence, in which harm is inflicted on a larger culture, collective, and identity.
Moisander, Pia A. and Erik Edston. “ Torture and its Sequel - A Comparison Between Victims from Six Countries.” Forensic Science International 137 (2003) 133-140. Permission to republish granted by Elsevier.
Pia A. Moisander is a part of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the University Hospital, at the University of Linkoping, Sweden. Erik Edston currently works with the Centre for Trauma Victims at the Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Referring to cases from the Centre for Trauma Victims in Stockholm (KTC), Moisander and Edston conduct a study that compares and contrasts the state of various torture victims from six different countries. Using information from a selected 160 patients, both authors found similarities and differences in the conditions, torture methods, and degree of trauma that each of these patients experienced. In approaching these aspects through a cross cultural examination, Moisander and Edston’s article presents valuable information about torture and its residual effects.
Zawati, Hilmi M. “Impunity or Immunity: Wartime Male Rape and Sexual Torture as a Crime Against Humanity.” presented at the IX IRCT International Symposium on Torture: Providing Reparation and Treatment, and Preventing Impunity, 9-10 December 2006, Berlin, Germany. Permission to republish granted by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).
Hilmi M. Zawati is an international criminal law and human rights jurist, and the current president of the International Legal Advocacy Forum (ILAF). Zawati has studied law at different American, Canadian, Middle Eastern, and African universities, and earned several law degrees, including the prestigious doctor of civil law (DCL) in international comparative law (McGill), MA in comparative law (McGill), PhD in international energy political economics (CPU), MA in Islamic law of nations (Punjab), Post-Graduate Diploma in public law (Khartoum), and LLB (Alexandria-Beirut campus).
Hilmi’s analysis contributes research on the phenomenon of wartime rape and sexual torture of Croatian and Iraqi men. With regards to international humanitarian and human rights law, he explores methods and possibilities for prosecution of these violations. Hilmi urges the international community to consider wartime rape as a crime and a threat to peace, while also encouraging victims of male rape to break their silence in order to address their socio-medical needs.
Sex in a Cold Climate is a documentary that portrays the mistreatment of the “fallen” women in the Magdalene laundries in Ireland. The women interviewed recall the sexual and labor abuse they suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church. Steve Humphries and narrated by Dervla Kirwan. It was used as a source for the 2002 film, The Magdalene Sisters.
di Giovanni, Janine. Ted Talk: What I Saw in the War. TED November 2012 Washington D.C. Permission to reuse granted by Creative Commons License.
Reporter Janine di Giovanni has been to the worst places on Earth to bring back stories from Bosnia, Sierra Leone, and most recently Syria. She tells stories of human moments within large conflicts -- and explores the shocking transition when a familiar street becomes a bombed out battleground.
Zimbardo, Phillip. Ted Talk: The Psychology of Evil. TED February 2008 Monterey, California. Permission to reuse granted by Creative Commons License.
Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.
Philip Zimbardo was the leader of the notorious 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment -- and an expert witness at Abu Ghraib. His book The Lucifer Effect explores the nature of evil; now, in his new work, he studies the nature of heroism
Given the racist and patriarchal patterns of the state,
it is difficult to envision the state as the holder of
solutions to the problem of violence against women of color.
-Angela Y. Davis, “The Color of Violence Against Women”
Feminism has long concerned itself with issues of sexual and gendered violence; however in much of this work violence is constituted as something that exists as an aberration of the State. In other words, these theorist and activists have argue that sexual violence can and should be ended though claims made on the State via legal redress. Yet this reliance on the law to end sexual violence can, and perhaps must, obscure the ways the State itself is among the primary arbiters of violence—sexual, gendered, racialized or otherwise.
The writers gathered here take as their place of departure an understanding that sexual violence is one of the primary methodologies of State power. Further, torture, rape, mutilation and its representational, affective, and material afterlives are fundamental to the continuation of colonial occupation. If the law, and by extension the State, can not offer accountability then what avenues are open to survivors of violence and how might we respond so that the preconditions of this harm are not hidden under phantasies of safety? Or put another way, if the State is built and maintained in part through sexual and gendered violence, these authors ask us to imagine a politic that can think toward forms of collectivity not bound to the terror so many currently live.