The International Crimes of Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Feminist Critique

Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 622

Gender and International Criminal Law, Edited by Indira Rosenthal, Valerie Oosterveld and Susana SáCouto Oxford University Press, 2022

63 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2020 Last revised: 13 Apr 2022

See all articles by Patricia Viseur Sellers

Patricia Viseur Sellers

University of Oxford - Kellogg College

Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Date Written: December 2, 2020

Abstract

Existing from ancient times to today, slavery and the slave trade have spared neither females nor males, children nor adults. Sexualized violence through specific practices, such as inter alia concubinage and enslavement of eunuchs in harems, forced breeding of wenches and bucks, and the keeping of ‘fancy girls’ and bardaj boys, were integral to slavery and slave trades across the globe. This chapter offers a critical feminist lens to uncover and examine the sexual practices and sexualized violence inflicted upon the subjects of the 1926 Slavery Convention: the slaves. Examining the historic, gendered, and sexualized institutions of slavery and the slave trade facilitates a more complete understanding of the Convention’s legal definitions. Similar scrutiny of slave traders’ and slave owners’ economic needs and social customs further deduce the definitional scope of these crimes. The authors posit that the 1926 Slavery Convention’s definitions encompassed diverse gendered, sexualized norms that historically have permeated slavery and the slave trade, while observing the misguided use and desuetude of the crimes of slavery and the slave trade in the statutes of contemporary international judicial mechanisms. The authors conclude by advancing the application of distilled legal precepts to redress the sexually saturated and gender-based practices of slavery and the slave trade that persist today.

This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book, Gender and International Criminal Law, edited by Indira Rosenthal, Valerie Oosterveld and Susana SáCouto, due for publication in 2022.

Suggested Citation

Viseur Sellers, Patricia and Getgen Kestenbaum, Jocelyn, The International Crimes of Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Feminist Critique (December 2, 2020). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 622, Gender and International Criminal Law, Edited by Indira Rosenthal, Valerie Oosterveld and Susana SáCouto Oxford University Press, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3741454

Patricia Viseur Sellers

University of Oxford - Kellogg College ( email )

62 Banbury Road
Oxford, OX2 6PN
United Kingdom

Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0860 (Phone)

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