False Dichotomies of Transitional Justice: Gender, Conflict and Combatants In Colombia
Author: Shana Tabak
Size: 61 pages (245 kB)
How do transitional justice mechanisms perceive the role of women and men in conflict and post-conflict situations? How might a gendered approach to transitional justice apply to the situation of female combatants in Colombia? Transitional justice mechanisms fail to be gender inclusive when they neglect the multiple gendered roles that men and women play in conflict and post-conflict situations. Examining transitional justice from a gendered lens reveals crucial detail about the situation of women in conflict and provides opportunities to transform the gendered origins of conflict.
Women in Colombia, where up to 50 per cent of guerrilla combatants are female, often view becoming a combatant as the best of a dismal array of options. This intersection of identities, of an individual as a women and a soldier, provides fertile ground for understanding conflict. Therefore, for transitional justice mechanisms to address the needs of female combatants they must interrogate what it means to be both a women and a soldier.
In Colombia, transitional justice programmes have fallen short for female combatants because of a failure to take a sufficiently gender-orientated approach. Problems stem from the perpetuation of false dichotomies between conflict and post-conflict, the public and private realms, and between victims and perpetrators. This results in:
Transitional justice must resist reinforcing societal relationships that contributed to conflict in the first place. If gender norms and hierarchies are part of what leads to conflict, it is crucial that transitional justice mechanisms challenge them. Furthermore:
Tabak, S., 2011, ‘False Dichotomies of Transitional Justice: Gender, Conflict and Combatants In Colombia’, International Law and Politics, vol. 44, pp. 103-163