#NoMoreImpunity || Blog Symposium || Annotated Bibliography on Gender, Torture and Transitional Justice


Annotated Bibliography on
Gender, Torture and Transitional Justice

Prepared by Mangalam Sridhar


  1. Gender  and  Torture  Conference  Report.  REDRESS  and  Amnesty International. October 2011. http://www.redress.org/downloads/publications/GenderandTortureConferenceReport-191011.pdf Accessed on 5/5/2016 at 1420 IST.

#Gender #Torture

The  report  is  a study  from  a  two-day  conference that   brought  in  people  from  different  dimensions like, representatives  from  Non – Governmental  Organisations  and  academics. The  report  focuses  on  the  definition  of  torture  as  per  the  international  law,  the  reasons  why  torture  is  considered  to  be  one  of  the most  serious  crimes  and  the  effects  of  the  different  forms  of  torture. It  looks  into  gender-based  violence  used  as  a  form  of  torture  by  state  actors  in  counter-terrorism  policies and  how  it  is  the  responsibility  of  the  state  when  torture  is  committed  by  the  non-state  actors. It  also  looks  at  the  international  legal  framework  implementing  the  prohibition  of  torture. They  discussed  on  the  role  that  legal  framework  on  torture  has  and  how  it  can  help  in  achieving  justice  for  women  and  those  from  marginalized  groups. It  also  considered  successes  in  advocacy  and  litigation  under  the  legal  framework  on  torture: it  recognised  the  forms  of  harms  by  state  and  non-state  actors  like,  female  genital  mutilation,  rape, etc. And  the  effects  this  recognition  has had.  It  also  focuses  on  the  responsibility  for  harms  by  non-state  actors.

  1. Torture  Research  Bibliography- Chris  Einolf, Assistant  Professor, DePaul University’s  School  of  Public  Service

https://tortureresearch.wordpress.com/Accessed on 6/5/2016 at 1930 IST


This  research  bibliography  is  a  web  page  that  provides  academic  scholars, researchers  and  other  commoners  an  understanding  of  what  torture  is  and how  it  can  be  prevented.  It  provides  various  definitions  of  torture  including  the legal  definitions,  scholarly  definitions,  etc. It  also  provides  a  clear  study  on  the history  of  torture  in  the  different  eras. They  also  focus  on  the  micro  level  causes  that  facilitate  torture  like  military  training,  etc.  and  the  macro  level  causes. The  focus  on  gender is  given  in  the  study  about Rape  and  sexual  assault. And  they  have  finally  concluded  with  the  preventive  measures.

  1. Gender and Torture: Does it matter? Published by Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Johannesburg, South Africa

http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?ots591=0c54e3b3-1e9c-be1e-2c24-a6a8c7060233&lng=en&id=179350 – Link for the PDF of the report. Accessed on 7/5/2016 at 1435 IST

#Gender #Torture

This  report  looks  at  the  different  ways  in  which  Gender  influences  the  impact  of  torture. It  aimed  at  developing  the  African  Torture  Rehabilitation  Model-  a  contextually – informed,  evidence – based  psychosocial  model  for  the  rehabilitation  of  victims  of  torture. They  looked  at  the  likelihood  of  Torture  Victimization, Impact  of  sexual  violence/ torture. The  study  had  three methodologies. It  also  looked  at  the  impacts  separately  for  men  and  women. And  then  a  consensus  was  built  and  interventions  were  proposed.  The  interventions  were  given  based  on  the  real-life  experiences  of  individuals.

  1. Gender  differences  in  Victims  of  War  Torture: Types  of  torture  and  psychological  consequences

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20499736 Accessed on 7/5/2016 at 1545 IST

#Gender #Torture

The  study  focused  on  torture  for  political  reasons  on  men  and  women  and  the  various  psychological  impacts  faces  by  them. They  also  looked  at  the  types  of  torture  that  men  and  women  faced  and  found  that  there  were  28  types  of  tortures  frequently  faced  by  men  and  5  among  women. Torture  types  also  revealed  three factors- Common  torture, sadistic  torture  and  sexual  torture. They  concluded  with  a  study  on  torture  faced  by  women  and  men  in  wars.


5.  Accountability  for  Past  Abuse- Juan  E.  Mendez, September 1996.

http://kellogg.nd.edu/publications/workingpapers/WPS/233.pdf Accessed on  8/5/2016  at  0015  IST


It  looks  into  the  massive  human  rights  violations  and  abuse  in  the  past  and  attempts  to  restore  truth  and  justice  to  the  legacy  of  abuse  in  the  recent  past. It  also  looks  at  various  dimensions  of  the  problem-  legal, political  and  ethical  dimensions. It  focuses  on  ways  to  look  into  these  problems  and  how  to  tackle  them.  It  also  mentions  the  different  measures  taken  by  various  countries  to  curb  these  problems,  and  looks  at  the  international  law. It  looks  for  ways  to  avoid  false  dilemmas  and  looks  for  moral  justifications  for  prosecutions  for  all  kinds  of  violations  committed  or  faced. Lastly,  it  looks  at  universal  principles  and  the  differences  between  countries  while  trying  to  find  solutions  for  the  violations  and  crimes.


  1. Gender  and  Transitional  Justice  in  Africa:  Progress  and  Prospects- Helen  Scanlon  and  Kelli  Muddell

http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajcr/article/viewFile/52170/40796 Accessed  on  8/5/2016  at  1200 IST

#Africa #Gender #TransitionalJustice

This  study  looks  at  the  needs  to  address  the  gender-based  violations  and  the  needs  to  address  the  kinds  of  violations  that women  face.  It  also  looks  at  negative  impacts  that  follow  when  gender – based  violations  are  neglected. It  focuses  on  the  legal  mechanisms  and  the  international  law- its  importance  and  contributions. Then,  it  looks  at  providing  amends  or  reparations,  security  sector  reform (SSR), mechanisms, emerging  concerns  and  the  challenges  for  Gender  and Transitional  Justice.


  1. Convention  Against  Torture: A  viable  alternative  legal  remedy  for  domestic  violence  victims- Barbara  Cochrane  Alexander

http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1277&context=auilr Accessed on 8/5/2016 at 1415 IST

#Gender #Torture

The  study  first  looks  at  torture – conventions  and  prohibitions, both  international  and  domestic. Then,  focuses  on  domestic  violence.  It  compares  Asylum  with  convention  against  torture(CAT)  relief  where, it  focuses  on  the  benefits  the  asylum provides  for  domestic  violence  victims, looks  at  the  requirements  for  the  survivor  of  domestic  violence  to  receive  CAT  reliefs  as  an  alternative  remedy.  There  is   a  detailed  study  on  domestic  violence, it  looks  into  case  studies  and  how  domestic  violence  is  a  form  of  torture.


  1. Gender  Inequality  and  its  effects  in  female  torture  survivors- Scientific  Research

http://file.scirp.org/pdf/PSYCH20120400009_94389582.pdf Accessed  on  8/5/2016  at  1420  IST

#Gender #Torture

It  gives  an  introduction  about  gender  inequality  and  torture  from  a  feminist  perspective, looks  at  gender  discrimination  as  a  form  of  trauma  that  has  adverse  effects  on  the  individual-  among  the  types  of  traumas,  this  focuses  on  type  III  trauma  which  is  one  of  the  most  serious  kinds. It  also  looks  at  the  different  dynamics  and  dimensions  of  gender  discrimination. And  there  is  study  conducted  on  gender  discrimination  for  females  and  males  in  different  areas.


  1. Transitional  Justice  in   Sri  Lanka  and  ways  forward- Centre  for  policy  alternatives- July  2005.

http://www.cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Transitional-Justice-in-Sri-Lanka-and-Ways-Forward.pdf Accessed  on  8/5/2016  at  1600  IST\

#SriLanka #TransitionalJustice

The  report  focuses  on  4  main  aspects  or  areas  for  study. They  are: Recruitment  and  conscription  of  Child  Soldiers,  Disappearances, Sexual  Violence  and  Displacement. Under  the  Recruitment  and  conscription  of  Child  Soldiers, they  look  at  the  definition  of  a  child  soldier,  use  of  child  soldiers, look  into  a  case  study  and  look  at  implementing  methods  to  stop  this  kind  of  a  violation  with the  involvement  of  the  truth  and  reconciliation  commission. Under  Disappearances, they  look  at  the  definition  of  enforced  disappearance,  the  issue  in  Sri  Lanka  and  look  into  a  case  study  where  they  focus  on  various  aspects  like, transition  of  leadership,  involvement  of  the  commission  of  inquiry,etc.  and  suggest  necessary  methods  to  avoid  these  problems. Under  Sexual  Violence, they  only  do  a  brief  study  on  Sexual  Violence  in  Sri  Lanka  and  look  into  a  case  study. Under  Internal  Displacement,  there  is  a  study  on the  issues  in  Sri  Lanka, how  it  has  affected  individuals  and  then  there  is  a  case  study  which  involves  the  National  Recovery  Strategy. Then,  the  importance  of  the  state’s  involvement  and  IDPs  involvement  is  looked  into.


  1.  Transitional  Justice  in  Sexual  and  Gender-based  Violence- Makau Mutua

http://www.pambazuka.org/gen//der-minorities/transitional-justice-sexual-and-gender-based-violence Accessed  on  8/5/2016  at  1930 IST

#TransitionalJustice #Gender

It  looks  at  the  need  and  the  importance  of  transitional  justice  to  solve  gender-based  problems. Looks  at  the  problems  women  face  due  to  patriarchy  and  male  centeredness. Focuses  on  early  stage  of  life, learning  and  socialisation  that  plays  an  important  role.  Looks  at  Sexual  and  gender  based  violence- women  and  girls  being  the  main  targets. And  then, legal  and  political  responses  are  looked  into.


  1. Gender  Justice-ICTJ

https://www.ictj.org/our-work/transitional-justice-issues/gender-justice Accessed on 8/5/2016  at  2300

#TransitionalJustice #Gender

Looks  at  the  prevalence  of  gender- based  violence  as  a  major  concern  and  looks  at  the  role  of  the  transitional  justice- its  mechanisms. They  also  mention  the  role  of  the  ICTJ like, how  they  support  local  women’s  groups, bring  activists  together,  etc.


  1. The  Gender  dimension  of  Transitional  Justice  Mechanisms: Laura.C.Turano

http://nyujilp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/43.4-Turano.pdf Accessed  on  9/5/2016  at  0700  IST

#TransitionalJustice #Gender

Looks  at  the  war  crimes, violence  committed  against  women  during  armed  conflicts, etc. It  focuses  on  the  historical  treatment  of  crimes  committed  against  women  during  armed  conflict  where  we  can  see  that, rape  is  the  least  condemned  war  crime. And  it  also  looks  at  characterizing  the  crimes committed against  women  and  there  is  a  detailed  study, investigation  and  looking  at  ways  to  respect  and  respond  properly  to  the  victims.


  1. Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and degrading treatment of Women: Psychological Consequences- Libby Tata Arcel

http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/psyke/article/viewFile/8530/7087 Accessed  on  11/05/2016  at  1000  IST

#Torture #Gender

This  report  starts  with  an  introduction  on  Torture  and  gender-specific  forms  of  torture. They  look  at  the  important  reason  for  focusing  general  societal  violence  against  women  and  it  looks  at  the  branch  of  human  rights  law. They focus  on  the  World  Conference  on  Human  Rights. Then, they  look  at  the  definition  of  gender-based  violence  and  how  this  definition  is  connected  to  the  definition  of  torture.  They  focus  on  sexual  torture  and  Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading, Treatment  and  Punishment (CIDTP) of  women  by  State  Agents-  This  looks  at  the  definitions  and  forms  of  Sexual  Assault.  It  also  focuses  on   specific  contexts  of  Sexual  Torture  and  CIDTP  like,  Armed  Conflict,  detention  for  various  reasons, etc. Then, they  focus  on  impunity  for  sexual  torturers, recognition  of  rape  as  a  sexual  torture  and  finally  looks  at  the  experience   of  sexual  torture.


  1.   Report  on  Gender  Perspectives  on  Torture  and  other  cruel,  inhuman  and degrading  treatment:  Juan.E.Mendez

http://antitorture.org/gender-perspectives-2/ Accessed  on  15/05/2016  at  1530 IST

#Gender #Torture

Firstly, it  talks  about  the  gender  perspectives  on  torture and  other  cruel  or  inhuman  treatment. The  rapporteur  stresses  on  the  applicability  of  the  prohibition  of  torture  and  other  inhuman  treatment  in  international  law  to  the  experiences  of  women, men, transgenders, lesbian, etc. It  focuses  on  the  legal  framework  for  the  need  to  apply  the  convention  against  torture  and  other  inhuman  treatment. They  also  look  at  how  violence, discrimination, etc.  is  not  just  faced  by  women  but  also  by  men,  looks  at  the  purpose  of  the  definition  of  torture  and  how  it  is  fulfilled. Then, it  separately  focuses  on  the  torture  and  other  kinds  of  ill-treatment  faced  by  women, transgenders, lesbian, etc. in detention, health  care  settings, looks  at  the  different kinds  of  abuse  or  violence  like  Rape, Domestic  violence, etc.  and  looks  at  the  various  measures  like,  health  care  and  sanitation, security, etc. It  also  focuses  on  the  different  harmful  practices  like  female genital mutilation, honour- based  violence,  etc. and  the  access  for  women, transgenders, etc  to  justice.


#NoMoreImpunity || Blog Symposium || Women’s Participation in Transitional Justice



Sumadhu Weerawarne-Perera

The experience of war and violent conflict is a gendered one. Its impact on men and women is different. The first round impact of violent conflict includes death and disability, impacting mostly on men, sexual and gender-based violence, widowhood, loss of income, assets and related security and displacement and migration.  The second round of impacts centres on adaptive responses or what victims or victim-families and communities to deal with the consequences of the first round.  These include the necessary induction of women in to civic and economic activities, the attempt to ignore the impacts of violence-related trauma in the effort to inadequately move-on and resultant impact on the women themselves and children.[i]

The possible third round impact relates to state responses to those issues that gave cause and arose out of violent-conflict.  In determining and designing these it is evident that the experience of both men and women during, due to and post-war must be taken into account. But the engagement of men and women in post war contexts is different. Patriarchy determines the space for women’s participation, the depth of women’s participation and the value and relevance accorded to women’s thinking and opinions. Just as much as women made little or no contribution in terms of decision making in the war effort, formally they are not being drawn in equal and representative terms to the transition/ reconciliation process. Most victim survivors of conflict are women – war widows in the north and south, but their participation in determining post war responses is minimal. And the engagement of men and women from a gendered lens is also limited or non-existent.

The presence of women in parliament went down from 5.7 per cent at the last general election.[ii]  This necessarily means that even in terms of numbers women are severely underrepresented in key decision making bodies which determine the policy direction of the government in relation to transition from war to peace.  When Parliament converted into a Constitutional Assembly for the first time in April this year it was with the aim of enacting a new constitution.   Accordingly, 7 deputy chairpersons and 21 steering committee members were elected by the Constitutional Assembly.  Only one of them, a deputy chairperson, is a woman.  Not one of its 21 members of the steering committee which is responsible for coming up with the draft constitution was a woman.   The Prime Minister informed Parliament that appointments for sub committees will be carried out after receiving the report from the Committee on Constitutional Reforms Public Representation before end April. No objections were raised by the opposition when appointing members for the Constitutional Assembly. [iii]

While there is a recognition in Sri Lanka today that a peaceful and just society requires multi ethnic and multi religious representation in decision making, there is still no recognition that men cannot, and should not, seek to represent the  interests of the entirety of society, when more than half of the population of Sri Lanka are women.

The exclusion of women from decision making in Sri Lanka at the highest levels through what appears to be a bi-partisan consensus in the Constitutional Assembly is not a positive sign for a transformation of the polity or its governance. There is a need for civil society to encourage more and more women with qualifications to come forward for public life.  There is also a need for the government to use, as a living and active policy, every opportunity for affirmative action in favour of women, such as in the constitutional reform process and the Constitutional Assembly.  A gendered-response is fundamental to effectively address post-conflict –problems and to build necessary resilience in communities and sustainable peace in the country.  However, efforts so far see limited women’s representative or effective participation.  This is concerning as a generic response without taking into account the heterogeneity of experiences across gender and other disaggregates like geography, ethnicity, age and social class may prove to be non-effective further fuelling the existing problems and cleavages.

On the other hand, the picture is not totally bleak.  At the local government level, legislation was introduced early this year in March to increase the participation of women with a dedicated quota of 25 per cent. This will clearly contribute to improved representation in terms of numbers, at least at the local government level and give some level of voice to women. This has yet to come into effect as no local government election has been held since then.   In addition, the government has announced that the Provincial Councils Elections Act No. 2 of 1988 is to be amended to include a 30 percent quota for women during the nomination of candidates.[iv]  However, the government has also stated that no similar quota will be provided at the parliamentary level and that the expectation is that increased women’s representation in higher levels of governance will take place through the upward mobility of women from the local level.

The basic analysis is from the point of view of inclusion that women represent women best and must necessarily be included in all decision-making processes.  Sri Lanka is today in a post-war transformative state. The transitional justice mechanisms that the government has pledged to set up, including the truth commission, office of missing persons and office of reparations will necessarily see women playing a major role as victim-survivors.  The first of the government’s transitional justice institutions to emerge, the office of missing persons, has special provision for gender concerns in it “to issue from time to time, rules and guidelines, which may include gender-sensitive policies, to be followed by all staff of the OMP relating to the exercise, performance and discharge of its powers, duties and functions.”[v] Those women who participate in these and other decision making forums need to empowered and on par with their male counterparts.  There is a need to be focused on capacity-building and inclusion of women in the transition and reconciliation process.

Sumadhu Weerawarne-Perera is a journalist and communications consultant.


[i]    Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview by Mayra Buvinic, Monica Das Gupta, Ursula Casabonne  and Philip Verwimp, H i C N Households in Conflict Network, The Institute of Development Studies – at the University of Sussex – Falmer – Brighton – BN1 9RE, http://www.hicn.org

Click to access HiCN-WP-1291.pdf

[ii]   https://www.parliament.lk/lady-members

[iii] Ensure equitable women’s representation in constitutional reform’ National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, http://srilankamirror.com/news/item/10008-ensure-equitable-women-s-representation-in-constitutional-reform

[iv]   http://www.srilankanewslive.com/news/politics2/item/8259-provincial-councils-elections-act-to-be-amended


#NoMoreImpunity || Blog Symposium || Impunity, Trust and Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka



Nimalka Fernando

In the post war context, Sri Lanka government has announced that it will facilitate a robust Transitional Justice process. As announced by the Foreign Minister, the mechanisms will guarantee truth seeking, provide reparation to those affected by the war and conflict, facilitate non-recurrence and assist in accountability.

One of the major challenges we human rights defenders faced over the past decade is the continuing and strengthening of the culture of impunity that prevailed in Sri Lanka. Violence perpetrated by political and security forces persons went unpunished. One of the major challenges we are facing in Sri Lanka is the failure to take action against perpetrators in spite of the existence of laws. In this regard torture though prohibited in law is a tool regularly used by all categories of the security forces. The Prevention of Terrorism Act provides the security forces and police to detain suspects for a prolonged period which has resulted in the use of torture to get evidence and commit degrading action against the victim. The majority of Tamil men and women survivors have revealed barbaric acts of torture including rape and sexual harassment. We are talking about transitional justice in such an environment. Victims and witnesses have repeatedly shown that they have no faith and confidence in national institutions. Even though the political leadership has changed they have failed to build a healthy environment to combat impunity.

The transitional justice process in Sri Lanka has to go beyond purely providing mechanisms to those affected.

Let me focus on the issue of violence against women. Often transitional justice advocacy will solely focus on addressing the issue of accountability more legalistically. Similarly when we are dealing with torture it is important to remember that a woman can be tortured without leaving marks on her body. In a war it is important to analyse the totality of the experience of women who has continued to be displaced, marginalised and forced to experience further acts of violence. Sri Lanka has to sign the optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture and provide a political environment of trust building if its commitment to TJ to become real to affected communities.

Nimalka Fernando is a prominent human rights defender, peace activist and lawyer from Sri Lanka.

#NoMoreImpunity || A Blog Symposium on Gender, Torture and Transitional Justice



Swarna Rajagopalan

Today, June 26, is United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. As Prajnya’s observance of this date, we have curated a small blog symposium on ‘Gender, Torture and Transitional Justice.’

Where we sit, in southern India, these sometimes seem like distant, irrelevant topics–a view made possible by our unflagging commitment to denial. Across the Palk Strait, denial is not an option. Sri Lanka is in the process of charting a transition out of war. Where that transition will lead depends largely on the outcome of the lively discussions underway there about issues of transitional justice.

This is one reason we partnered with the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka to put together these blogposts on gender, torture and transitional justice. NPC has been working with grassroots communities to promote dialogue for over two decades and in recent years, has used this network to promote a discussion about transitional justice and the shape and form of the peace that is being built in Sri Lanka.

This is not to say these issues are not important in India. Torture, and gender-based violence as torture, are not unknown in India. And whether or not we consider ourselves conflict-torn or post-conflict, the values of truth, accountability and justice, apply to our political discourse and practice just as well. For Prajnya, that is why it was important to create and curate this resource.

What is a blog symposium and why do we bother with it? A blog symposium is nothing but an invited collection of blogposts on different aspects of a particular topic or issue. The writers have different backgrounds, different expertise and quite likely, different points of view. Our only filter was that the posts had to address the broader symposium rubric. We are not concerned with presenting a single consensus “correct” view.

Rather, Prajnya’s purpose is to offer information and a range of views so readers, especially those reading about the issue for the first time, can start to find their way through the debates. This is intended to be, not the last word, but the first set of resources you access on a topic.

The last post in this blog symposium is an Annotated Bibliography that we hope will be useful to you for further reading.

Blogposts in this symposium (links will be added when they are all published):

  4. WOMEN AND MISSING PERSONS, National Peace Council of Sri Lanka Team
  8. Annotated Bibliography on Gender, Torture and Transitional Justice, prepared by Mangalam Sridhar 

Posts 1, 2, 5, 7 and the Annotated Bibliography were commissioned by Prajnya. Posts 3, 4 and 6 were commissioned or authored by the National Peace Council.

Prajnya would like to thank the National Peace Council team for its openness and cooperation.