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Title: Transition or transformation : an analysis of before, during and post-conflict violence against women in Northern Ireland, Liberia and Timor-Leste
Author: Swaine, Aisling
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 7977
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2011
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The purpose of this thesis is to expand the overall analysis and understanding of the conflict-related violence that women experience, with a focus on contributing to the assessment of violence within the post-conflict phase. Drawing from an extrapolation of violence before, during and after armed conflict, the thesis examines the complexity of physical violence and how this complexity impacts on women's experiences of gendered violence. A primary line of inquiry is whether and how international law grapples with the complexity and characteristics of violence which this study reveals. The research is a socio-legal theoretical qualitative study which draws together documentary and empirical work to assess violence against women in three conflict-affected jurisdictions - Northern Ireland, Liberia and Timor-Leste. In order to comprehensively disaggregate violence, the thesis takes a thematic approach and examines violence against women within three theoretical areas. Firstly, using the theory of 'variations', the thesis identifies a range of variables that inform a range of 'violences' that women experience during conflict. It highlights the variations in violences that exist within and across the three case studies and the contextual factors that inform these violences. Secondly, 'continuums' theory is used to identify inter-relational connections between violences before, during and after conflict. The relevance of contextual factors that inform fluctuations of power and resulting violences across conflict phases is highlighted. It proposes that a 'continuum of power' may be used to explain the fluctuating sources and sites of violence that appear. Furthermore, the difficulties with legal tools that create distinctions between forms, fluctuations and phases of violence relative to the experience of it are incorporated into this discussion. The third theory, 'labelling', is derived from the empirical research and is used to demonstrate that violence becomes re-labelled and redefined after conflict through law and through other formal and informal social and policy processes. This attributes a new social meaning and definition to violences which leads to an increase in reporting of this violence by women. Drawing upon these findings, the thesis concludes that it would be beneficial to envision a complex mosaic of pre and during conflict violences upon which to view the aftermath. The thesis also concludes that transitional justice processes, such as truth commissions and international criminal tribunals, need to take this mosaic into account so that they address the variant and contextually mutant characteristics of violences that occur during conflict. While these processes have made some progress towards addressing gendered violence, they consistently rely on a quantitative, surface-level engagement with 'gender' and 'women' rather than grappling with aspects of 'equality' and 'inequality' central to understanding these violences. The thesis proposes that in the aftermath a transformation rather than a transition is required and that if transitional justice processes take account of forces that simultaneously push open and close down space for women then radical substantive transformation can take place.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available