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Testimony of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Injustice of Rape: Moral Outrage, Epistemic Injustice, and the Failures of Bearing Witness

Oregon Review of International Law 15:225 (Spring 2014)

46 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2014  

Galya Ruffer

Northwestern University

Date Written: April 2014

Abstract

Whereas prosecutions in international criminal courts have increasingly included charges of rape, the messy realities of justice reveal that many witness testimonies are never heard, convictions are limited, sentences are not served, reparations are not paid and women who bring cases to trial become social outcasts. This research examines the ways in which the norms and vocabularies of international criminal justice concerning sexual violence in genocide and mass conflict mediate localized understandings of witness testimony ultimately affecting the ability of international courts to bear witness to the injustice of rape. The work examines the construction of official narrative as moral outrage regarding rape in international criminal trials versus the injustice of rape within the sociocultural and political context that shapes local perceptions of justice and the dynamics of change. This work argues that official narratives regarding rape in the ICC, ICTY and ICTR have resulted in epistemic injustices in which the testimony of women is often silenced, rejected and ignored through notions of the nature of generalized violence and political engagement. The work concludes by taking up the question of what are the duties to bear witness and how do failures in social and cultural capabilities contribute to the legal ambiguity regarding international understandings of gender-based violence.

Keywords: Congo, sexual violence, rape, international criminal justice

Suggested Citation

Ruffer, Galya, Testimony of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Injustice of Rape: Moral Outrage, Epistemic Injustice, and the Failures of Bearing Witness (April 2014). Oregon Review of International Law 15:225 (Spring 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2502877

Galya Ruffer (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2010 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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