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>> 117 7 Loving Your Enemy Rape, Sex, Childbirth, and Politics Post–Armed Conflict Kadiatu was with the rebels for one year. She admitted to killing and “holding weapons.” At just twenty-two years of age, Kadiatu has three children, aged eleven, seven, and three. This means her first child was born when she was just eleven years old. Kadiatu explained that the children were all born from a rebel and was adamant that they were all fathered by the same man. Kadiatu admits that things are “strange” between her and her children and complained that she had no assistance in parenting. Although Kadiatu did not clarify where the father is—or if he is alive—she said she tells her children their father is dead.1 Salamatu thinks she was eighteen or nineteen when she was with the fighting forces. She escaped but still does not know what the DDR is. Salamatu has two children. The first, a four-year-old, was fathered by a rebel. Salamatu did not give any more details other than “he is dead.” Her second child, a one-year-old, was fathered by her current husband. Salamatu explained that her husband “doesn’t accept” her first child and has insisted the child be raised by Salamatu’s mother.2 Sara Ruddick has written that “[women’s] maternal conception of the history of human flesh sets them at odds with militarist endeavours.”3 Ruddick’s work is representative of maternal feminists’ conclusions about women’s natural aversion to war and conflict. Ruddick has written about the positive impact of motherhood on women and especially how it transforms women’s perspectives on ethics, care, and violence. Although Ruddick has admitted that her perspective is a product of her position as a white, heterosexual, Western woman, the limits of this argument have perhaps been underestimated . Associating sex and childbirth as a natural and positive experience for women in Sierra Leone—or many other contexts—is beyond absurd. This presumption about women’s natural role and emotions casts a violent, moralizing net over all women in all contexts. Women who do not fit into this mold of the natural, superior, feminized peace-builder are judged, ignored, 118 > 119 resources and attention. This chapter also discusses the inability of aid agencies to name and categorize children born of war within their existing classifications of vulnerable children–child soldiers, abandoned children, and street children. Not identifying children born of rape as a particular category of vulnerable children in Sierra Leone is a political choice that stems from the misconception that sex and the family are neither a political nor a security issue. A secondary aim of the chapter is to deconstruct dichotomies associated with mothers and war, such as courageous male warriors and peaceful nurturing women. This analysis draws on Jacqueline Stevens’s analysis of the relationship between the state and the family, as well as feminist critiques of representations of “natural” mothers.5 Lene Hansen’s work related to identity formation is also employed in an examination of the consequences for women who do not fulfill the definition of woman as “emotional , motherly, reliant and simple.”6 Hansen has argued that the language used in policies directed at particular groups of people helps shape general ideas and attitudes about them. As a result, policies can serve to construct or obscure particular identities and categories of people. For example, policies that assume women are the primary caretakers of children help reify the stereotype of women as naturally nurturing and part of the so-called domestic sphere. In the context of larger debates on the naturalness of the family and the liberal tendencies of post-conflict programs, children born of rape are a fascinating case study. By examining the various stigmas attached to children born of rape, it becomes obvious that these children are considered exceptional , although not necessarily because of the rape that produced them; rather, these children are understood as atypical because they defy most understandings of conjugal order. Children born as a result of rape are born as a result of sex outside of marriage or a recognized, “legitimate” sexual relationship ; as a result, they challenge the traditional liberal model of the family because they reveal that not all children are considered natural extensions of the family unit. Conjugal Order and Colonial Rule in Sierra Leone As mentioned in the introduction, the concept of conjugal order refers to laws and social norms that serve to regulate sexuality, (re)construct...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814771259
Related ISBN
9780814761373
MARC Record
OCLC
810933437
Pages
188
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-16
Language
English
Open Access
No
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