Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) knows no borders. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have witnessed historically unprecedented levels of violence against non-combatants as well as a concomitant rise in international and local efforts to assist survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Yet the diversity of cultural contexts in which SGBV occurs challenges us to ask a timely question: what might a transnational feminist analysis of conflict-related sexual violence look like? This is particularly salient because feminist scholar-activists increasingly help shape policy designed to both address sexual violence as a weapon or by-product of war and services to assist its survivors. This article addresses the rise of global and local initiatives and institutions that rely upon the relatively recent emergence of concretized “best practices” recommended as global solutions to what are inevitably local problems. This article demonstrates how such global solutions are recommended for what are inevitably local problems and exemplifies how best practices are couched in human rights discourses that are presumed universally relevant despite their almost exclusive origination and dissemination by individuals in a privileged position vis-à-vis the intended beneficiaries of such discourse’s practice. After analyzing the ethical concerns raised by this reality, this article proposes using non-hegemonic feminist models to develop new strategies for respecting both cultural diversity and the humanitarian responsibility to protect individuals from conflict-related sexual violence.

Author Biography

Susan Dewey is Assistant Professor, Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wyoming. Tonia St. Germain is Adjunct Associate Professor, Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wyoming.