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Title: Female defendants in international criminal law and beyond
Author: Labenski, Sheri A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 1103
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Gender justice is an important component of contemporary international criminal law. Feminist scholars and practitioners have been instrumental in advancing gender law reform within international criminal law and a key outcome has been the prosecution of conflict related sexual violence, in particular through the work of the Ad Hoc Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, as well as analysis of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. This thesis argues that, despite these important gains with respect to gender justice in international criminal law, there has been inadequate attention to women as potential perpetrators, defendants, and suspects of international crimes. In addressing the absence of female defendants from prosecution under international criminal law, I argue that expectations with regard to gender are reproduced in international criminal law without sufficient understanding of the diversity of gender as a power relation reproduced intersectionally with other power relations. Following Engle's work on the hypervisibility of women as victims of sexual violence, the thesis analyses female defendants in legal and cultural contexts to examine female violence in armed conflict, beyond gendered meanings. Furthermore, through drawing on feminist approaches from MacKinnon to Kapur, to examine constructions of gender, sexuality, race and class, within law, the thesis challenges narrow assumptions with respect to gender in armed conflict that collapse into stereotypes of raced victimhood and sexual vulnerability. Gender is understood, not as a form of identity, but as a power arrangement that is implicated in racial, ethnic, classist, and socio-economic understandings of conflict and of culture. Thus, enhanced understanding of the complexity of gender in armed conflict is advocated through the study of female defendants. The thesis highlights representations of women accused of international crimes in the ICTY, ICTR, and the ECCC, and identifies tensions between international and domestic dialogues as a result. The study of the ICTY demonstrates the friction between the pursuit of gender justice and the limited gendered narratives women are represented through in depictions of the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia. Similarly, in the ICTR the thesis demonstrates a racialised preoccupation with violence that further reproduces gender, minus its complex relation with race stereotypes. In the study of the ECCC the absence of female defendants is analysed via tensions between local and international perceptions of political leadership, law, and gender. This is not a study of the stories of individual female defendants; rather the research explores how understandings of gender, international law, and armed conflict shift when female defendants are positioned as the focus of analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral