Research - Gendercide/Gendocide
Genocide and Humanitarian Intervention:
Incorporating the Gender Variable
The gender variable is one of the least-analyzed
and most misunderstood elements of genocidal killing. This
paper seeks to develop the author's inclusive framing of "gendercide,"
i.e., gender-selective mass killing, by exploring the relevance
of gender to genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention.
Among the specific arguments to be advanced is that the genocidal
or proto-genocidal targeting of males, especially "battle-age"
men, is one of the most reliable indicators of the onset,
or impending onset, of fullscale genocide. In the three "classic"
genocides of the twentieth century, for example -- against
the Armenian community in Turkey, European Jews, and the Tutsis
of Rwanda -- fullscale genocide was preceded by a wide range
of gender-selective measures, including mass roundups and
localized killings of men. The demonization of out-group males
was a key feature of the propaganda discourse that paved the
way for genocide. In addition, the initial stages of all these
genocides overwhelmingly targeted males for extermination,
a phenomenon that is also evident in numerous contemporary
and historical cases. Associated patterns of the demonization
of "out-group" women, and abuses including rape
and sexual assault, also need to be factored into the analysis.
I also devote a separate section to "The Challenge of
Gendercidal Institutions," focusing on one -- maternal
mortality -- in which state-sponsored negligence kills hundreds
of thousands of women annually.
I begin by examining the incorporation of the gender variable
into both international relations and genocide studies. In
the latter half of the paper, the gender policies of two institutions
that play a key role in humanitarian interventions -- the
United Nations and human-rights NGOs -- are considered and
critiqued. The argument will be that these institutions have,
on balance, paid only the most limited attention to the vulnerability
of the group most typically targeted in genocidal killing
-- younger, "battle-age" males. This focus on males
reflects, and is designed to partly redress, the marginalization
of male victims from the discourse of human rights and humanitarian
intervention. It should not be seen as suggesting that men
and boys are in any way "more important" as subjects
of analyses than women and girls. Rather, I contend that the
link between women/femininity and humanitarian emergencies
has been relatively well conceptualized and explored by feminist
scholarship, and entrenched as a subject of legitimate concern
in the policies and coverage developed by the key institutions
already referred to. The challenge of expanding the framework
of "gender" beyond women has, however, barely begun
to be met, and urgently requires scholarly and institutional
Over the last couple of decades, feminist
theories of international relations have become one of the
most vibrant subfields in the discipline. In the process,
they have diversified to include liberal, radical, and post-modernist/post-positivist
"strands." Each has sought to undermine the hegemony
of realist and neo-realist framings -- typically denouncing
classical I.R. as "one of the most gender-blind, indeed
crudely patriarchal of all the institutionalized forms of
contemporary social and political analysis,"(1) and stressing
its failure adequately to incorporate a "gender variable"
in the analysis. The result has been an impressive contribution
to the I.R. literature and the integration of a rich array
of theoretical insights into the gendering of international
politics and international conflict.(2)
In a 1996 article for Review of International Studies, however,
I argued that "feminists' success in exploring the gender
variable remains ... mixed. And until feminist frameworks
are expanded and to some extent reworked, it is hard to see
how a persuasive theory or account of the gendering of international
relations can be constructed." The key problem, I contended,
was the fact that "Feminist attempts to incorporate a
gender variable into IR analysis are constrained by the basic
feminist methodology and all feminists' normative commitments.
A genuinely 'feminist approach' by definition 'must take women's
lives as the epistemological starting point' [quoting Rebecca
"In its way," I suggested, this represents "a
new logocentrism, whereby (elite) male actions and (hegemonic)
masculinity are drawn into the narrative mainly as independent
variables explaining 'gender' oppression. ... The plight of
embodied women is front and centre throughout, while the attention
paid to the male/masculine realm amounts to little more than
lip-service."(3) I concluded this article by "suggesting
a range of phenomena and issue areas that ought to be explored."
Among them, "Patterns of political violence ... need
to be explored for the light they might shed on how 'security'
is gendered at the societal level. Preliminary investigation
suggests that political violence by state agencies is predominantly,
even overwhelmingly, directed against males rather than female."(4)
While the reaction to the article among the feminist-I.R.
community was generally hostile,(5) there are indications
that scholars and students of gender and International Relations
might be growing more receptive to analyses that call attention
to male victimization. Some feminist writers, including Jean
Bethke Elshtain, Cynthia Enloe, and Cynthia Cockburn, have
offered increasingly nuanced and sensitive gender analyses
that both broaden the palette of women's actions and attitudes,
and open space for empathetic, as well as critical, consideration
of the male subject.(6) An important recent volume, States
of Conflict, includes contributions by Judy El-Bushra, Ruth
Jacobson, and Parita Mukhta that further problematize women's
involvement in conflict and pay specific, if passing, attention
to the phenomenon of gender-selective atrocities against men.
According to the editors, "The collection emphasises
women's agency, alongside men's, in both creating and challenging
conflict. In so doing, we aim for a feminist analysis which
is at the same time more consistent in its treatment of gender
than is often the case when conflict and/or violence is under
In December 2000, El-Bushra edited a groundbreaking issue
of Forced Migration Review on the theme of "Gender and
Displacement," asking, among other questions:
Does the stress on women prevent us from recognizing discrimination
by men against men (older versus younger men, for example,
or men from different classes or ethnicities), women against
women (when women collude in promoting gender discrimination
against each other) and women against men? Can women's rights
be supported within a context of broader developmental and
humanitarian goals or do men inevitably have to lose when
women gain? In short, where do men fit within a gender approach
to development? ... If "gender" is to be rescued
as a useful project for development, it needs time and resources
to be invested in research in order to understand how it works
in different social, economic and political contexts. It needs
to be re-politicised and understood as a factor of contested
identities, both of women and of men. Most importantly, if
gender is to continue to be a relevant concept, it needs to
be understood as having meaning for both men and women, old
and young, settled and displaced, North and South: in other
words, as an expression of human identity and human aspirations.(8)
Finally, Charli Carpenter, who like myself seeks to bridge
international relations and genocide studies, has criticized
"the misconception, shared by feminist and non-feminist
IR scholars alike, that gender studies in IR is synonymous
with feminist IR theory. ... A gender theory that focuses
only on women is leaving a vast array of other topics on gender
unexplored." She calls for "expanding gender research
beyond feminism ... [in order to] yield more inclusive analyses,
particularly of men and masculinity and of non- or anti-feminist
women's issues."(9) One can only applaud the trend, and
hope that in the future the study of gender and international
politics, including such grim manifestations as genocide,
will indeed produce the "more inclusive analyses"
that Carpenter recommends.
In the field of genocide studies, meanwhile,
the gender variable has been "invisible or barely visible,"
an "obfuscation" that "may reflect the fact
that it is non-combatant males who tend overwhelmingly to
be the victims of gender-selective mass killing, and this
remains a powerful taboo in the feminist-dominated discussion
of gender."(10) Only one book has appeared that claims
to address the subject of gender and genocide: Ronit Lentin's
edited collection Gender & Catastrophe.(11) The editor's
introduction describes women as "uniquely at risk"
in genocidal outbreaks, and the volume as a whole attempts
to illustrate "the ways [in which] women are targeted
by genocides and catastrophes."(12) It is a worthwhile
contribution, but also a blinkered one. And apart from case-studies
of women's victimization in individual genocides, mostly focused
on the former Yugoslavia,(13) nothing has appeared subsequently,
to my knowledge.
It was with this analytical gulf in mind that I wrote my article
"Gendercide and Genocide" for Journal of Genocide
Research; and also the reason that I co-launched, in February
2000, a Web-based educational project called Gendercide Watch
(www.gendercide.org), which seeks to confront gender-selective
mass killings and other atrocities against both men and women
worldwide. In marked contrast to the response generated by
my work in gender and international relations, both projects
have benefited by a quite extraordinary receptiveness. In
the first instance, the Journal of Genocide Research offered
the opportunity to follow up my article with a special issue
of the journal addressing the theme of gender and genocide
(to be published in Spring 2002). Gendercide Watch, meanwhile,
has attracted some 400-500 visitors a day to its website,
received numerous Internet awards, and has been cited by media
outlets including The Times and BBC Online in the UK and The
Village Voice in the United States. Moreover, both the list
of affiliates and the e-mail list for the project have attracted
women and men in roughly equal numbers (in fact, with a slight
preponderance of women). I believe this bodes extremely well
for incorporating the gender variable into analyses of genocide
and genocide prevention, and for doing so in an inclusive
way that treats both men and women as "worthy" victims,
while not being blind to the role that both sexes play in
the perpetration of genocide.(14)
At the same time, however, criticisms have been voiced about
the "gendercide" framing. One issue is whether the
term itself can legitimately be used to refer to selective
genocidal attacks on men and women (or boys and girls). In
another paper presented on this panel, for instance, R. Charli
Carpenter argues that a clear distinction should be drawn
between (biological) sex and (culturally-constructed) gender,
and what I call "gendercide" would better be referred
to as "sex-selective massacre." Stuart Stein, in
his forthcoming contribution to the special issue of the Journal
of Genocide Research, concurs, claiming that "There is
also a subsidiary confusion between sex and gender" in
my work: "Sex refers to the biological status of the
individual, whereas gender refers to socially learned behaviors
and expectations. As far as selection of individuals [for
mass murder] in the situations depicted by Jones are concerned,
differences between sex and gender are unlikely to be taken
note of by perpetrators, selection being made on the basis
of sex. To be strictly accurate, therefore, the selectivity
that Jones refers to should be designated sexcide."(15)
This is not the place for an extended discussion of this subject,(16)
but I believe there are solid grounds for using "gender"
as shorthand to designate for the continuum of biologically-given
and culturally-constructed attributes; that such a practice
is common in "colloquial usage" and in "much
international discourse pertaining to women," as Carpenter,
for one, recognizes; and that use of the term "gendercide"
is amply in keeping with the original deployment of the term,
by Mary Anne Warren in her 1985 book Gendercide: The Implications
of Sex Selection.(17)
Much seems to be gained in terms of nomenclatural convenience,
and little analytical force surrendered, if the specific context
of "gender" is simply borne in mind. When I talk,
for example, about the "gendering" of the victims
of a mass grave (or a campaign of sexual assault, or a military
press-gang), it can be assumed that I am discussing the fate
of "embodied" males and females, rather than (or
prior to) inquiring into more subtle cultural conditioning.
"Gendercide" similarly refers to the deaths of "embodied"
males and females -- or rather, violently disembodied ones.
In "gendering" social phenomena or historical events,
meanwhile, I should be understood as trying to discern the
explanatory power of gender in the broader political or sociological
equation (gender, again, both as biological sex and cultural
Carpenter also notes that using the term gendercide "is
not without its political advantages." It "creates
an obvious semantic corollary to the much-abused term 'genocide.'"
It helps to "advanc[e] a normative argument that policymakers
and activists turn their brains on." I would not deny
for a moment that the political-activist component is integral
to my research on gendercide, nor that this component is greatly
aided by deployment of a term that is both evocative and concise.(18)
The political aspect of the project also prompts my focus
on "sex-selective massacre."
Carpenter is quite right when she contends that it would be
disastrous for studies of gender and genocide to become preoccupied
with this theme to the exclusion of all else. Her specific
recommendations for building on the existing gendercide literature
-- such as further exploring the age variable, destabilizing
heterosexual assumptions, and examining gendered discourses
of humanitarian intervention -- strike me as convincing and
well thought-out.(19) Thus, gendercide should not be the focus
of gender-and-genocide research. In my view, however, it should
remain a legitimate focus of such research. And it is perhaps
one of the most urgent ones, given that the phenomenon of
gender-selective mass killing has not, until now, been framed
inclusively, analyzed within a comparative and global-historical
framework, or integrated into the policy and humanitarian
discussion and agenda.(20)
In the activist context, in which "issues" must
be carefully defined and energetically lobbied, the validity
of a focus on gender-selective mass killing becomes clearer
still. Primary attention to the most atrocious real-world
reflections of gender bias can create the kind of cognitive
"shock" that is vital to establishing phenomena
as issues and problems. It is especially vital to draw attention
to male victims, since the culture's prevailing obliviousness
to this category of victims means that only the worst abuses
have a chance of being viewed as morally problematic and worthy
of policy concern.
The real world changes far more slowly than does scholarship.
One can be reasonably sure that if one advances theory X in
the social sciences and succeeds in finding an audience for
it, a year or two later one will be reading an article entitled
"Beyond X." Activism, on the other hand, often involves
decades of patient and insistent work before one even begins
to see one's framings and arguments reflected in the policy
sphere -- if one ever does. The question, then, is whether
"gendercide" is nothing more than a political "catch-phrase,"
as Carpenter suggests (that is, something gimmicky and disposable);
or whether it serves instead as a catalyzing idea, without
which no meaningful "principled-issue network" can
develop. I believe strongly that it can succeed as the latter.(21)
In the remainder of this paper I seek to extend my previous
research on gendercide by concentrating on its relevance to
the policy sphere and strategies of intervention in humanitarian
emergencies, including genocidal and proto-genocidal campaigns.
How might more nuanced and sustained attention
to the role of gender in genocide -- in particular, an analytical
framework that incorporates victimized or vulnerable males
-- affect strategies of genocide prevention and humanitarian
intervention? I will build the following analysis around the
prelude and onset/outbreak stages of genocide. The aftermath
of genocidal killing also deserves careful consideration,
particularly with regard to the humanitarian needs of women
and girls, who are likely to be disproportionately represented
among the survivors of genocide. Given that the focus here
is on prevention and suppression, though, I will not give
the aftermath stage the attention it merits.
There are two key areas in which gender
seems to play a significant role in preludes to genocidal
killing: mass detentions, torture, and selective killing of
"battle-age" males, and the demonization of both
males and females, but especially males, as part of the campaign
of stigmatization, marginalization, and concentration that
standardly precedes the onset of larger-scale or full-blown
genocide. Those seeking to isolate "warning signs"
of genocidal outbreaks should therefore attend closely to
this gendered patterns of anathematization and persecution
-- along with other important (and standardly gendered) indicators,
such as the development of paramilitary forces, primordial
appeals to racial and ethnic identity, the cultivation of
"the politics of verbal assault and physical violence,"
and the deepening of inter-generational cleavages.(22)
The detention, abuse, and selective killing of "out-group"
males as a signal of impending mass slaughter is quite clear
in the case of the twentieth century's "classic"
genocide, the Jewish holocaust. A major marker on the road
to genocide was the Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass")
on November 9-10, 1938, when Hitler's thugs targeted Jewish
citizens and property for largescale violence and destruction.
In the aftermath of the Kristallnacht, the Nazis rounded up
at least 30,000 Jewish males and incarcerated them in concentration
camps. As Eugen Kogon writes,
These arrests were made without regard for age. Ten-year old
boys could be seen side by side with septuagenarians and octogenarians.
En route from the Wiemar [sic: Weimar] railroad station [to
the camp at Buchenwald] all stragglers were shot down, while
the survivors were forced to drag the bloody bodies into camp.
... Inside stood the Block Leaders, wielding iron rods, whips
and truncheons, and virtually every Jew who got into the camp
sustained injuries. The events that took place at the time
are not easily described in a few words. Let me merely mention
that sixty-eight Jews went mad that very first night. They
were clubbed to death like mad dogs ... four men at a time.
... SS noncoms pushed the heads of some of their charges into
overflowing latrine buckets until they suffocated.
Eventually, "for reasons that never became clear, most
of the[se] Jews were set free on orders from the Reich authorities"
and allowed to go into exile. Exactly a year later, however,
after "an alleged attempt on Hitler's life," Jewish
men in Buchenwald "were suddenly recalled from their
[work] details and confined to barracks." The Germans
"picked out twenty-one Austrian and German Jews, entirely
at random, without any list. Most of them were vigorous young
men. ... The SS took the group out through the gatehouse and
shot them at close range in the quarry."(23)
It is scarcely surprising that by the time such abuses and
atrocities spilled over to fullscale genocide, "the [Nazis']
decision to kill every Jew did not seem to demand special
justification to kill Jewish men," as Joan Ringelheim
notes. "They were already identified as dangerous. ...
Jewish men were always considered an objective enemy of National
A similar process of roundup, detention, and ill-treatment
of out-group males was evident in the prelude to the Rwandan
genocide, beginning with the invasion of Rwanda by the RPF
rebels in 1990. In October 1990 a pogrom was launched against
Tutsis which began -- like the 1994 genocide -- with the imposition
of a curfew. "I got scared as soon as I heard the word
curfew" in April 1994, recalled one young man. "The
curfew in October 1990 had been a disaster for Tutsi men.
Thousands of them were arrested and thrown into prison. Some
died. I feared the same thing would happen again."(25)
When the genocide first erupted, Tutsi males -- as well as
many Hutu men of an oppositionist bent -- understood immediately
that they were at greatest risk. "As soon as I heard
that Habyarimana had been assassinated, I knew they would
go for all Tutsis, especially Tutsi men," one survivor,
Emmanuel Ngezahayo, told African Rights.(26) In general, "they"
did, although the nature and evolution of the mass-killing
enterprise in Rwanda is a matter of some dispute (see the
following section for further discussion).
One other case-study is worth citing in this context, though
in scale it can hardly be compared with the Jewish and Rwandan
catastrophes. In the prelude to the Kosovo war -- the period
from 1989 to 1998 -- there is little question that the focus
of Serb occupation strategies revolved around the detention,
abuse, and intimidation above all of younger Kosovar males.
Amnesty International's 1994 report on the Serbs' reign of
terror in Kosovo -- worse was to follow in the next five years
-- gives a sense of the thousands of individual acts of "extreme
brutality" involved in these proto-genocidal campaigns,
and their destabilizing effect upon the entire ethnic-Albanian
Because of the traditional pattern of settlement in rural
areas of Kosovo, in which large extended families tend to
live together, police raids are normally witnessed and personally
experienced by many relatives. ... Accounts of arms searches
repeatedly refer to the deliberately intimidating and destructive
way in which they are conducted: furniture is broken up, the
inmates of the house are threatened, shouted and sworn at,
and the men of the house are frequently arrested and beaten
in local police stations or, even more humiliatingly, in their
homes in front of their families. These beatings are often
severe, causing injuries: reports of the victim losing consciousness
as a result of beating, or of suffering bruising, broken teeth
or ribs, are not uncommon. It is not only those found to possess
unlicensed arms who are at risk of being beaten: those who
do not possess weapons may also find themselves bearing the
brunt of police frustration.(27)
Women certainly numbered among those detained by Yugoslav
security forces during this period. But as Julie Mertus noted
shortly before the outbreak of the Kosovo war, "while
police ... routinely stop ethnic Albanian men, women and children
can usually walk the street without police harassment."
Thus, when Mertus cites the astonishing statistic that between
1989 and 1997 "584,373 Kosovo Albanians -- half the adult
population -- [was] arrested, interrogated, interned or remanded"
by the Serb police state, one can reasonably guess which half.(28)
Analyses of past atrocities, however, can do little to help
the victims apart from retrospectively validating their suffering.
The challenge is to apply the lessons to the conflicts of
the present, and there is no shortage of contemporary case-studies
meriting urgent attention. As this paper was nearing completion,
for example, the New York-based organization Human Rights
Watch -- which has devoted greater attention to the plight
of younger males in conflict situations than any other established
organization I can think of (see "The Human Rights NGOs,"
below), issued a press release on Macedonia that anyone familiar
with the patterns of abuse and atrocity in the Balkans conflicts
of the 1990s could only find chilling:
Macedonian Police Abuses Documented Ethnic Albanian Men Separated,
Tortured at Police Stations (Skopje, Macedonia, May 31, 2001)
Macedonian forces are systematically separating out ethnic
Albanian males fleeing fierce fighting in northern Macedonia,
and severely beating some of the men at police stations, Human
Rights Watch said today. In the most severe cases documented
by Human Rights Watch, the ill-treatment appears intended
to extract confessions or information about the National Liberation
Army (NLA) and amounts to torture. The fear of violence at
the hands of the Macedonian police is also stopping many ethnic
Albanians from fleeing to safety into government-controlled
"Ethnic Albanian men fleeing the fighting in Macedonia
face severe ill-treatment by the police," said Holly
Cartner, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia
division of Human Rights Watch. "We have documented serious
beatings and torture of ethnic Albanians at the Kumanovo and
Skopje police stations in the last week. The victims we interviewed
have the bruises and injuries to back up their claims of abuse."
Since the beginning of the renewed offensive, Macedonian forces
have separated out men from the civilians fleeing the fighting
and have severely beaten some of them. ... Some of the tactics
involved hundreds of blows to the soles of the victims' feet
-- a torture technique known as falanga which causes severe
pain and swelling and can lead to kidney failure -- as well
as extended beatings on the hands, buttocks, arms, and heads
of the victims. The men interviewed by Human Rights Watch
indicated that they had heard the screams of many other beating
victims at the police stations, suggesting that the scope
of such abuse may be widespread and condoned at the police
stations. ... Some of the men were forced to sign confessions
under torture and to implicate others in NLA-related activities.
Large numbers of men continue to be separated out from convoys
of fleeing civilians and taken to police stations. ... "Ethnic
Albanian men remaining in the villages under NLA control fear
ill-treatment and torture at the hands of Macedonian forces,"
commented Cartner. "There is little doubt that this fear
is one of the reasons why so many ethnic Albanian men are
refusing to leave their homes in the conflict zone."(29)
The press release concluded with a call for international
denunciations of the Macedonian government and the immediate
halting of police abuses. Could practical interventionist
measures also be undertaken? Surely, it would be an appropriate
moment for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees -- or NATO
peacekeepers in Macedonia -- to intervene to provide escorted
safe passage to all the younger males in the villages who
wish to leave. Whatever the success of efforts to defuse the
Macedonian crisis, the lesson of such gendered state strategizing
should be taken to heart: in any "crackdown" on
perceived dissident elements, it will nearly always be males,
especially younger males, who suffer first -- and worst.
One of the most interesting and potentially
useful fields for future research into gender and genocide
is the process of demonization that standardly accompanies
the "prelude" phase. Both women and men of designated
out-groups may be viciously anathematized by the purveyors
of genocidal hatred. But while the female side of the phenomenon
has received some scholarly attention, notably in the context
of the European witch-hunts and the Rwanda genocide, the male
dimension, though more pervasive and analytically significant,
has been almost entirely ignored. A rare and welcome exception,
though hardly a sustained analysis, can be found in Deborah
Willis's study of the English witch-hunts, Malevolent Nurture.
In the concluding paragraph of the book, Willis provides an
important digression on "some of the most virulent of
the twentieth-century 'witch-hunts,'" in which "violence
has been directed against symbolic 'fathers' or other figures
of authority." The trend is especially prominent "in
countries where newly emergent but precarious ruling elites
needed 'others' to blame for the serious economic or other
problems they faced." Her example is Stalin's purges
in the USSR:
... During the 1930s and 1940s in Stalin's Soviet Union, leadership
fractured at all levels, not only within Stalin's "inner
circle" but also within local and regional party machines
(paralleling in some ways the neighborly quarrels and religious
controversies that divided early modern communities). As power
oscillated between different factions, purges were carried
out in the name of Stalin, "Father of the Country,"
"the Great and Wise Teacher," "the Friend of
Mankind," against the antifathers and betraying sons
who had perverted the socialist program, the "enemies
with party cards." Underlying the psychology of the purges
may have been, among other things, the magical beliefs of
the Russian peasantry, still lively in the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries, translated after the Revolution
into the language of "scientific socialism." Rather
than the female witch, however, it was the male possessed
by evil spirits who anticipated the typical target of persecutory
violence -- the "evil spirits" of foreign, class-alien,
or counterrevolutionary ideas. Demystified, secularized, stripped
of his supernatural power, the great demonic adversary no
longer needed to seduce a weaker [female] vessel but could
walk among the elect as one of their own.(30)
Research on this subject is so lacking that one is forced
to develop Willis's point in a somewhat impressionistic and
intuitive fashion. A useful way of proceeding may be to invite
the reader to engage in two rather macabre speculations. First,
returning to the twentieth century's "classic" genocide,
consider the Jew -- the purportedly "evil," "shiftless,"
"dirty," "skulking," "subversive,"
"rodent-like," "hook-nosed" Jew -- of
Nazi propaganda. How was this grotesque propaganda portrait
gendered? Was the Jewish enemy generally depicted as male
or female? It is hard not to agree with the evaluation of
Claudia Koonz, who notes the standard motif in which "Germany
[was] pictured as an innocent female, about to be attacked
by a hyper masculinized male -- the Jew."(31) It was
for this reason and by this process that Jewish men were "already
identified as dangerous" (recall Joan Ringelheim's comment
earlier). Detailed content analyses of Nazi and other hate-propaganda
would be needed to establish the accuracy and boundaries of
this argument; but as a general proposition, it seems difficult
The second speculation may have broader applicability. The
reader is asked to take the following pejorative terms and
descriptions frequently applied by would-be and actual génocidaires
to the members of the out-groups they target:
Now impose a human face on each of these genocidal stereotypes
-- or, if this is too uncomfortable a proposition, imagine
the face that the architects of genocide have tended to attach
to these designations. Is it a male or a female face that
comes to mind first and most vividly ... perhaps exclusively?
Consider now a handful of additional genocidal stereotypes:
Here female "faces" would likely dominate overwhelmingly
or exclusively in the first three cases, and would also figure
strongly in the latter two. There are, therefore, ways in
which women/females are effectively demonized. Perhaps it
is fair to argue, however, that the available range of genocidal
stereotypes is much narrower for women; and that when genocidal
language and strategies are "gendered," they are
most likely to focus on males, especially those of "battle
The sexual nature of most of the anti-female stereotypes points
to the important role of sexual harassment, abuse, and attacks
-- as well as allegations of the same committed by out-group
males -- as a prelude to genocidal outbreaks. One of the most
dramatic examples of the sexual demonization of women in a
pre-genocidal context is Rwanda. Linda Melvern points out
in her study A People Betrayed that of the notorious "Ten
Commandments" propounded by the "Hutu Power"
movement, "the first three ... referred to Tutsi women;
the first commandment forbade marriage between Hutu and Tutsi
because every Tutsi woman was a traitor and Hutu girls made
more suitable mothers." In general, "here was enormous
propaganda [directed] against Tutsi women in the build-up
to genocide and the hatred mobilization [later] allowed the
most inhumane acts of sexual violence to take place."
This hate propaganda existed against a backdrop of women's
structural oppression and systematic denigration: "In
Rwanda, women could not inherit land or take out a loan and
a wife could not work without the authorization of her husband."(32)
This important theme is explored in greater detail in Christopher
Taylor's powerful book Sacrifice As Terror. Taylor notes that
"in the months leading up to the genocide violent sexual
imagery of both males and females abounded in the iconography
of Hutu extremist literature while acts of actual sexual violence
against Tutsi women occurred with increasing frequency."
He points out that through gendered propaganda, Hutu extremists
appear[ed] to be attempting to purge their ambivalence toward
Tutsi women via symbolic violence, even as they project[ed]
their own erotic fantasies upon them. ... One can only speculate
about the possible cognitive dissonance in the minds of many
Hutu extremists where the question of Tutsi women was concerned.
What is most important for our purposes is the fact that these
sentiments received social expression(33)
-- and that they served as a key indicator of the impending
campaign of genocidal hatred against all Tutsis (though the
"ambivalence" to which Taylor refers seems to have
resulted in a disproportionate targeting of Tutsi males in
the early and most destructive stages of the genocide, as
we will explore further below).
It should be pointed out that a corollary phenomenon, the
demonization of out-group males as "rapists," has
been a common feature of proto-genocidal situations. In her
study of "how myths and truths started a war" in
Kosovo, Julie A. Mertus notes that "a sexualized imagery
of Albanian men and women was adopted ... in the mainstream
Serbian and Yugoslav presses," with "Albanian men
... declared to be rapists, although Kosovo had the lowest
reported incidents of sexual violence in Yugoslavia."
(Albanian women, meanwhile, "were portrayed as mere baby
factories, despite statistics indicating that the childbirth
rates of urban Albanian women and those of other urban women
in Yugoslavia were nearly identical.")(34) Such charges
of rape -- so central to the murder of thousands of Black
men in lynchings in the U.S. Deep South -- also serve as a
powerful indicator that a campaign of mass violence, if not
outright genocide, is being prepared.
One of the most predictable features of
a pre- or proto-genocidal situation is the advent or deepening
of economic crisis. This always has profoundly "gendered"
attributes. Women, for example, are likely to be "first-fired"
when widespread layoffs hit, and may be increasingly forced
into the informal economy or the sex industry. Single mothers
and widows may confront enormous added difficulties in securing
sustenance for themselves and their children.(35)
The reality, however, is that women rarely figure directly
in the organization of genocide, and somewhat less rarely
in its perpetration. Men's role as the dominant planners of
genocide, and that of the willing and unwilling male executioners
who are its foot soldiers, should make us particularly attuned
to the gendered effects of economic crisis on males, especially
younger males. They are likely to experience unemployment
and poverty with a particular existential piquancy. Employment
and (in predominantly agricultural societies) access to land
may be essential to their self-definition as males, and to
their prospects for marriage and offspring. Economic crisis
undermines employment opportunities and divests many male
"heads of households" of their property. They may
grow, as a result, more receptive to genocidal appeals and
to conscription into the ranks of the génocidaires.
Those same genocidal appeals and conscription calls frequently
play upon the economic and existential insecurities of younger
males. Such seems to have been the case in the early years
of Nazi rule in Germany. It was certainly true in the pre-genocide
period in Rwanda. There, the economic crisis that descended
in the 1990s, though it had a devastating impact on all underprivileged
sectors of Rwandan society, constituted a special crisis for
younger males: "Without land or employment, young men
cannot advance in life, they cannot marry or achieve the social
status of their parents."(36) According to Elenor Richter-Lyonette,
landlessness and poverty made younger males especially "vulnerable
to taking compensatory action. ... The hope for a redistribution
of wealth in one's favour was a distinct incentive for the
commitment of acts of genocide, particularly with the landless,
unemployed youth ..."(37)
This gender analysis would seem to hold considerable relevance
for the policymaking of international organizations and financial
institutions, such as the United Nations and multilateral
lending agencies. These play a vital role in managing economic
crisis in the Third World. Unfortunately, too often that role
has been a destructive one. In particular, the "austerity
programmes" imposed on volatile and debt-ridden economies
throw hundreds of thousands out of work, and undermine the
land-base for subsistence agriculture in favour of cash crops
(and migrant rather than landed labour). The contribution
of such programmes to genocidal outbreaks should not be underestimated,
and their special impact upon younger males' life prospects
and self-image should be integrated into any evaluations of
their anticipated or actual impact. "Austerity"
initiatives that merely fuel masculine crises (and greatly
increase children's and women's material suffering as well)
should have no place in processes of "reform," "democratization,"
and "peacebuilding." Nation-states in the industrialized
world have an additional responsibility in this area:
While espousing the virtues of free trade, the United States,
Japan, members of the European Union and other rich countries
continue to employ various means -- including high tariffs,
export subsidies and hygiene restrictions -- to shelter their
own industries, effectively preventing developing countries
from gaining [a] greater share in the markets in which they
can compete most effectively. The rich do this largely because
of the political clout of certain domestic industries and
unions that worry about losing jobs. ... Although global trade
grew 12 percent last year -- the fastest pace in more than
three decades -- the export share of poor countries has continued
to slide, contributing to deteriorating living standards for
hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
... Last year, the 25 wealthiest nations in the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development spent more than \$360
billion [U.S.] on agricultural subsidies -- a sum equivalent
to the gross national product for all of sub-Saharan Africa.
The EU alone spent close to \$300 billion last year on export
subsidies that reward its farmers for creating surpluses which
are then dumped in many Third World markets -- at prices below
production cost. This practice often destroys an important
pillar of the farming community in poor nations and undermines
their food security because local growers can't compete.(38)
By sapping the wealth and available resources of the most
fragile economies on earth, the industrialized world thus
bolsters the near-perpetual atmosphere of economic crises
in these countries. Riots and unrest, and sometimes the outbreak
of genocidal killing, are the far-from-indirect results. Promotion
of a greater degree of economic justice, therefore, can be
seen as one of the most effective forms of humanitarian intervention
and genocide prevention that the wealthy nations of the West
can engage in.(39)
In "Gendercide and Genocide,"
I suggested that "a gendered understanding of the dynamics
of genocide throws important new light on key cases of mass
killing throughout modern history."(40) Specifically,
the initial/preliminary targeting of battle-age males for
concentration and extermination is so regular a feature of
twentieth-century genocides that it is almost ubiquitous.
It is worth revisiting the evidence for this proposition in
the case of the three twentieth-century genocides that, for
Alain Destexhe,(41) constitute the century's only "true"
cases of genocide: the assaults on the Armenian population
of the Ottoman Empire; Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied
territories; and Tutsis in Rwanda. I rely here on sources
not cited in my "Gendercide and Genocide" article.
The genocide of Ottoman Armenians began with the April 24,
1915 detention and subsequent execution of elite Armenian
males in Constantinople. This was followed by a campaign of
mass killing that targeted Armenian men conscripted into the
Ottoman armed forces, as U.S. diplomat Henry Morgenthau noted:
In the early part of 1915, the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish
army were reduced to a new status. Up to that time most of
them had been combatants, but now they were all stripped of
their arms and transformed into workmen. Instead of serving
their country as artillerymen and cavalrymen, these former
soldiers now discovered that they had been transformed into
road labourers and pack animals. Army supplies of all kinds
were loaded on their backs, and, stumbling under the burdens
and driven by the whips and bayonets of the Turks, they were
forced to drag their weary bodies into the mountains of the
Caucasus. ... If any stragglers succeeded in reaching their
destinations, they were not infrequently massacred. In many
instances Armenian soldiers were disposed of in even more
summary fashion, for it now became almost the general practice
to shoot them in cold blood. In almost all cases the procedure
was the same. Here and there squads of 50 or 100 men would
be taken, bound together in groups of four, and then marched
out to a secluded spot a short distance from the village.
Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air, and
the Turkish soldiers who had acted as the escort would sullenly
return to camp. Those sent to bury the bodies would find them
almost invariably stark naked, for, as usual, the Turks had
stolen all their clothes. In cases that came to my attention,
the murderers had added a refinement to their victims' sufferings
by compelling them to dig their graves before being shot.
When the next stage in the genocidal campaign was decided,
built around expulsion of Armenians in "caravans of death,"
the focus was again on the outright slaughter of "battle-age"
males, as Morgenthau relates:
The systematic extermination of the men continued; such males
as the persecutions which I have already described had left
were now violently dealt with. Before the caravans were started,
it became the regular practice to separate the young men from
the families, tie them together in groups of four, lead them
to the outskirts, and shoot them. Public hangings without
trial -- the only offense being that the victims were [male]
Armenians -- were taking place constantly. The gendarmes showed
a particular desire to annihilate the educated and the influential.
... At Angora all Armenian men from fifteen to seventy were
arrested, bound together in groups of four, and sent on the
road in the direction of Caesarea. When they had travelled
five or six hours and had reached a secluded valley, a mob
of Turkish peasants fell upon them with clubs, hammers, axes,
scythes, spades, and saws. Such instruments not only caused
more agonizing deaths than guns and pistols, but, as the Turks
themselves boasted, they were more economical, since they
did not involve the waste of powder and shell. In this way
they exterminated the whole male population of Angora, including
all its men of wealth and breeding, and their bodies, horribly
mutilated, were left in the valley, where they were devoured
by wild beasts. ... In Trebizond the men were placed in boats
and sent out on the Black Sea; gendarmes would follow them
in boats, shoot them down, and throw their bodies into the
water. When the signal was given for the caravans to move,
therefore, they almost invariably consisted of women, children,
and old men. Any one who could possibly have protected them
from the fate that awaited them had been destroyed.(42)
In the case of the Jewish holocaust, in "Gendercide and
Genocide" I cited Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's finding that
in the earliest stages of the fullscale genocide, the Einsatzgruppen
or mobile killing-squads in occupied Poland and the USSR overwhelmingly
targeted Jewish (and other) males. Christopher Browning concurs
with this assessment, noting that "it is generally accepted
that in the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa the Jewish
victims were primarily adult male Jews, and that beginning
in late July -- at different times in different places at
different rates -- the killing was gradually expanded to encompass
all Jews except indispensable workers ..."(43) Browning's
research into the atrocities committed by police battalions
attached to the Einsatzgruppen demonstrates how orders from
the top were translated into gendercidal policies at the base.
On July 11, 1942, the following orders went out to the police
battalions: "Confidential! By order of the Higher SS
and Police Leader ... all male Jews between the ages of 17
and 45 convicted as plunderers are to be shot according to
martial law. The shootings are to take place away from cities,
villages, and thoroughfares." Browning notes: "There
was, of course, no investigation, trial, and conviction of
so-called plunderers to be shot according to martial law.
Male Jews who appeared to be between the ages of seventeen
and forty-five were simply rounded up" and led away for
In both the Armenian and Jewish cases, the genocidal campaign
was subsequently expanded from an attack on community males
to an all-encompassing "root-and-branch" assault
on the entire community, including children and women. A number
of commentators have pointed to a very similar pattern in
the Rwandan genocide -- a preliminary targeting of adult males
and boy children, followed by a more sweeping assault on the
entire Tutsi community. Human Rights Watch, for examples,
contends that a decision was taken in mid-May -- some five
weeks after the outbreak of the genocide -- to extend the
slaughter to these previously protected groups.(45) However,
close analysis of the "policy of massacres"(46)
implemented beginning on April 6, 1994, suggests a more complex
picture: classic gendercidal massacres of males intermingled
with "massacres in [i.e., as early as] April 1994 that
were both gargantuan in scale and largely indiscriminate in
targeting Tutsi men, children, and women," including
one -- at the parish of Kurama in Butare prefecture on 20
April -- that was almost certainly the worst of the twentieth
century, with between 35,000 and 43,000 Tutsis killed in six
There is little doubt, however, that males (men and boys alike)
were most at risk in the first and most exterminatory phases
of the genocide, and that at no point in the genocide were
they granted the exemptions, sometimes apparently official,
that women and girls received -- albeit often at the cost
of sexual servitude to their tormentors:(48)
The primary targets of the hunt [for survivors of the opening
massacres] were Tutsi men, particularly what extremist propaganda
portrayed as the "ultimate" enemy -- rich men, men
between their twenties and forties, especially if they were
well-educated professionals or students. Most hated of all
were well-educated Tutsi men who had studied in Uganda (and
to a lesser extent Tanzania and Kenya) who were immediately
suspected of being members or supporters of the RPF. Within
days, entire communities were without their men; tens of thousands
of women were widowed, tens of thousands of children were
In the case of children, males were again at special risk:
"The extremists were determined to seek out and murder
Tutsi boys in particular. They examined very young infants,
even new-borns, to see if they were boys or girls. Little
boys were executed on the spot. Sometimes they ordered mothers
to kill their children. ... In what can only have been a horrific
unending nightmare, older boys were relentlessly hunted down.
Many mothers dressed their little boys as girls in the hope
-- too often a vain hope -- of deceiving the killers. The
terrified boys knew exactly what was happening."(50)
The boys were particularly targeted, according to African
Rights, "on the basis that they will be tomorrow's RPF
soldiers. 'Paul Kagame [then-RPF rebel leader, now Rwandan
president] was also three when he left the country' is the
phrase that preceded the cold-blooded murder of thousands
of little Tutsi boys. Little Tutsi girls were spared with
the comment that 'they can be married off to our boys.'"(51)
Indeed, the opening blast of the genocide was accompanied
by an injunction not to repeat the "mistake" of
the 1959 revolution, when male children had been spared only
to return as guerrilla fighters.(52)
This gendercidal targeting of males, particularly "battle-age"
(but non-combatant) men, is more evident still in instances
of mass killing that have often been designated as genocides,
but around which greater debate has swirled about the accuracy
of the designation.(53) Such cases include the Nazi war against
the Soviet Union, East Pakistan/Bangladesh in 1971, Iraqi
Kurdistan (notably the Anfal Campaign of 1988), Kashmir and
Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s,(54) Bosnia-Herzegovina in the
1990s, Kosovo in 1998-99,(55) the events in East Timor in
mid-1999 (as opposed to the preceding period of Indonesian
occupation),(56) Colombia,(57) Afghanistan,(58) and Chechnya
(1994-2001). The point can be illustrated with testimony and
analyses from recent or ongoing conflict situations (I will
again avoid citing evidence given in "Gendercide and
Human Rights Watch's in-depth report on The "Dirty War"
in Chechnya reports that "Military servicemen and police
frequently conduct large sweep operations in Chechen villages
or towns, with the stated aim of seizing illegal weapons and
ferreting out those believed to be collaborating with Chechen
rebels. Typically, they detain dozens of men in such operations,
many of whom 'disappear' without a trace." Excavation
of a mass grave containing "at least sixty dead bodies"
in the village of Dachny, near the Khankala army base, resulted
in the observation that "the overwhelming majority of
the corpses -- mostly male and ranging in age from eighteen
to fifty years -- were dressed in civilian clothes, had their
hands tied behind their backs and had gunshot wounds."(59)
"I killed a lot," reports a Russian soldier in the
renegade province. "I wouldn't touch women or children,
as long as they didn't fire at me. But I would kill all the
men I met during mopping-up operations. I didn't feel sorry
for them one bit. They deserved it. I wouldn't even listen
to the pleas or see the tears of their women when they asked
me to spare their men. I simply took them aside and killed
"William Rozo spoke in a hushed staccato from his desk
at the office of the Catholic church's local Committee for
Justice, Life and Peace. Flanked by posters -- one heralding
the rights of civilians to remain neutral during armed conflicts,
another from the United Nations urging Colombians to 'join
the force for peace' -- Rozo gave a preliminary accounting
of the massacre committed by a paramilitary squad in the town
of Mapiripán. 'The diocese has a record of 26 people
killed. Most were mutilated with machetes, their heads were
chopped off, their chests sliced open in the sign of a cross
so the bodies wouldn't float when thrown into the river. All
were men. The killings began July 16 and ended July 20,' Rozo,
24, said. 'It seems they used heads for soccer balls. There
were heads 50 yards from bodies, next to stones that looked
like goal markers,' he said."(61)
"A band of suspected militants massacred 36 Sikh men
on Monday night in a village in the Indian state of Kashmir
on the eve of President Clinton's state visit to India, a
visit he had hoped would help bring peace in violence-torn
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region claimed by both India
and Pakistan. No group has yet claimed responsibility so it
was not possible to ascribe the motives of the killers with
any certainty, nor whether they are from one of the militant
organizations that have links to Pakistan's army intelligence.
... Indian police officials said the massacre, which took
place on Monday night about 9 p.m., was carried out by dozens
of Muslim militants. They descended on the largely Sikh village
of Chattinsinghpura about 40 miles south of the summer capital
of Srinagar, ordered people from their homes, then executed
the men. Thirty-four men perished on the spot and two more
died later at a hospital."(62)
"Many young people killed have not been engaged in armed
combat. They have been ordinary boys who have disappeared
on an errand for their parents, visiting relatives, or while
working in their fields, or who have been picked up from their
own or their in-laws' home. ... Disappearances occurred primarily
in the under-thirty age group. Some villages had lost more
than forty young men. Sursinghwala in Amritsar district had
lost seventy young men. Buttar Kalan, in Gurdaspur district,
lost twenty. Each village has not kept a separate account
of its losses. Erring on the conservative side ... it is highly
probable that most villages in the Amritsar district would
have lost on average ten young men."(63)
"To Blessed Nkano and his friends, the armed enforcers
who descend on their Zimbabwe township after dark in Land
Rovers with blacked-out windows are known as the 'ghost squad.'
They wear no uniforms and carry no identity cards, but after
they have gone through the beer halls and nightclubs beating
young men like Mr Nkano, 19, the ghost squad retreat into
the night, taking a victim with them. In the past fortnight,
11 young men have disappeared from St Mary's township after
these late-night raids. Local churchmen and human rights groups
can find no trace of them in any police station or detention
centre. Nobody is in doubt that this is the work of President
Mugabe's feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which,
in a country that cannot find money for food or petrol, has
just been given another £20 million budget to create
"In its report today, Human Rights Watch said the most
recent massacre took place in early January as the Taliban
advanced toward Yakaolang. Taliban search parties rounded
up several hundred men from their houses and shot them, along
with some Afghan relief workers, by firing squad, witnesses
said. 'The killings were apparently intended as a collective
punishment for local residents whom the Taliban suspected
of cooperating with United Front forces, and to deter the
local population from doing so in the future,' the rights
report said. In May, Human Rights Watch said, an unknown number
of people were killed on a road between two northern towns
in an area populated by Hazara Shiite and Ismaili Muslims.
Some of the men killed there had been in custody for four
months and may have been tortured, witnesses told Human Rights
Watch. 'What has emerged from these cases, as well as prior
events in Hazarajat and northern Afghanistan,' the rights
report concluded, 'is a pattern of efforts to intimidate minority
populations and to deter them from cooperating with the United
Front, through the arbitrary detention and summary execution
of male civilians.'"(65)
"The killers came on Valentine's Day, and made this a
village of widows. In the middle of a birthday party, masked
men with automatic rifles walked out of the green hills and
slaughtered most of El Limoncito's men and boys, 12 in all.
Even here in Sinaloa, a Pacific Coast state known as the cradle
of Mexican drug trafficking, the executions were shocking.
In their savagery, they signaled the ugly realities that stand
in the way of President Vicente Fox's pledge to crack down
on the violent drug industry. 'I have no voice left from screaming,'
said Leticia Gaspar, 39, whose husband and two boys, age 13
and 19, were among those cut down in a spray of bullets from
AK-47 assault rifles in this remote valley where marijuana
and poppy fields flourish. As the young widow tied a crucifix
to a tree marking the spot where her husband's blood still
stained the dirt, her 8-year-old son, Francisco -- one of
the few surviving males -- spoke up: 'Bad people killed everybody.'
Those bad people have not been found. The widows here tell
police they have no idea who killed their husbands, or why."(66)
"Ivory Coast's new interior minister has vowed to track
down and punish the killers who massacred up to 50 young men
during election violence. The bodies, which had bullet wounds,
were found piled up on the outskirts of the country's main
city, Abidjan, days after the country was hit by a post-election
power struggle. The victims may have been supporters of Alassane
Ouattara, a leading politician who was excluded from the election
which finally brought Laurent Gbagbo to power. ... The bodies
were found on Friday. Many had been stripped naked. A man
who says he is the only survivor of the massacre has blamed
military police. 'At the gendarmerie headquarters they undressed
us, they hit us, they put us into a truck with bodies, they
took us to Yopougon and there the soldiers opened fire,' said
the man, identifying himself only as Ibrahim."(67)
"The East Timorese selected for execution in the Oecussi
enclave were first registered by Indonesian officials before
being marched, hands bound, a short distance across the border
where they were hacked to death by machete-wielding members
of a militia death squad. Senior UN officials claim the executions
were supervised by Indonesian army and police. At least one
person was shot dead, possibly while trying to escape the
frenzy of killing. ... Evidence gathered so far indicated
the victims were mostly men taken on September 8 from villages
near Passabe, identified by Indonesian authorities as pro-independence
strongholds. According to accounts from independence supporters,
between 52 and 56 men were marched across the nearby border
into West Timor for registration. Their hands were then bound
with palm twine and they were marched a short distance back
into East Timor where they were executed ..."(68)
It is also important to recognize that some contemporary examples
of genocidal or proto-genocidal campaigns do not conform to
this pattern. The gendercide analysis appears to be of relatively
little utility in Algeria, for example, where both the "wholesale"
terrorism of the state and the "retail" terrorism
of paramilitary and guerrilla forces appears to discriminate
hardly at all on gender grounds. Much the same seems to hold
true in the extraordinarily destructive civil wars that have
consumed West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic
of Congo); whatever gendercidal assaults have occurred against
"battle-aged" males, or younger boys, has been swamped
by gender-indiscriminate killings of civilians as well as
deaths from hunger and disease, the total apparently approaching,
in the Congo case, a staggering three million people.(69)
It is notable, though, that in no twentieth-century case I
am aware of have women and girls been initially, predominantly,
or exclusively targeted in genocidal attacks -- though this
picture becomes significantly more clouded if we consider
gendercidal institutions such as maternal mortality, discussed
in greater detail later in this paper. But there is nothing
at the conceptual or strategic level that would preclude such
a targeting -- an important point, since gendercidal attacks
on males are often explained (and frequently dismissed) as
simply the product of military "logic" or "necessity."
In my reading of the literature, I have found one nineteenth-century
case that indeed points to a genocidal strategy in which females
(along with the elderly and children -- indeed, everyone except
"battle-age" males) were specifically targeted for
extinction, while males were disproportionately preserved.(70)
The strategy in question was part of the genocidal campaign
by which Shaka Zulu, probably the single most powerful leader
of the last half-millennium of African history, established
and expanded his empire in the 19th century. Shaka ruled the
kingdom of the Zulus for just a decade -- from 1818 until
his assassination in 1828. The scale of the terror that his
forces inflicted on neighbouring populations in this brief
period beggars belief. But it has been little appreciated,
in large part because the obliteration or dispersal of the
victims was so extensive, and the personal testimonials so
rarely gathered or set down. Jonassohn and Chalk describe
a "mass exodus of African peoples" fleeing Shaka's
extermination campaigns, and note that "To this day,
peoples in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and
Uganda can trace their descent back to the refugees who fled
from Shaka's warriors."(71) It was also a genocide that,
at least for substantial periods and over substantial areas,
seems to have regarded "battle-age" males as a vital
addition to the armies of imperial expansion. After his early
victory over the Butelezi clan, Shaka conceived the then quite
novel idea of utterly demolishing them as a separate tribal
entity by incorporating all their manhood into his own clan
or following, which brilliant manoeuvre immediately reduced
his possible foes for all time by one and at the same time
doubled the number of his own army.
But while "admitting the young warriors into his regiments,"
write Jonassohn and Chalk, Shaka "usually destroyed women,
infants, and old people." The difficulty here is that
Shaka seems to have been at least as prone to "root-and-branch"
killing as to gender-selective massacre. Here too, however,
his strategies were intimately gendered. In exterminating
the helpless followers of Beje, a minor Kumalo chief, and
the chief himself, Shaka employed the same kind of military
"logic" that has governed gendercides against men
throughout history. But while the framing is familiar from
slaughters of "battle-age" males, deemed threatening
as a group, here it specifically targeted women along with
children. Shaka directed his troops not to leave alive even
a child, but exterminate the whole tribe. We [foreigners]
remonstrated against the barbarity and great impropriety of
destroying women and children, who, poor unoffending innocents,
were not culpable, and could do no injury. "Yes they
could," he said; "they can propagate and bring children,
who may become my enemies. It is the custom I pursue not to
give quarter to my enemies, therefore I command you to kill
Again, nothing fundamentally distinguishes these extensions
of genocide's virulent logic -- the mass slaughter of women
and girls as potential bearers of combatants and new ethnic
stock; of young boys as possible future combatants; or of
elderly men as possible former combatants -- from the strategy
of gendercide against "battle-age" males. Nothing,
that is, except the fact that Shaka's policies are all but
unique in the historical record.
Various proposals for integrating a gender
analysis with strategies of genocide prevention and humanitarian
intervention have already been touched on. The most important
challenge, I contend, is to approach gender inclusively so
that the vulnerabilities and victimization experiences of
males, especially "battle-age" males, receive the
attention they so urgently require. In this main section,
I want to examine the specific mechanisms by which this social
cohort is standardly marginalized from the discourse of intervention
and protection. I focus on three main actors: the United Nations;
the leading human-rights NGOs (Amnesty International dn Human
Rights Watch); and the mass media. The analysis concentrates
on examples drawn from the Balkans wars of the 1990s. Thereafter,
I assess the analytically distinct "Challenge of Gendercidal
Institutions," particularly with regard to their destructive
impact on ordinary women worldwide.
The United Nations and other international
organizations (like the World Bank) have increasingly moved
to integrate a gender perspective in their policies and operations.
This reflects the indefatigable efforts of feminist activists
and researchers to "mainstream" gender. The "malestream,"
however, has tended to get very short shrift in the process.
The potentially catastrophic implications of this exclusion
were nowhere more evident than in an event that constituted
one of the U.N.'s nadirs in the 1990s: the Srebrenica massacre
of Bosnian Muslim males by Serb army and paramilitary forces
-- under the noses of Dutch peacekeepers, and with the passive
acquiescence of the international community.(73)
After the Bosnian atrocities of 1992 and further fighting
in 1993, Srebrenica was declared one of five "safe areas"
under UN protection. Tens of thousands of desperate Muslims
sought protection there. In an article written in 1993 and
published in January 1994, "Gender and Ethnic Conflict
in ex-Yugoslavia," I pointed to the plight of the civilian
population in the city, noting that Serb forces guarding checkpoints
[on the edge of the "safe area"] ... have repeatedly
made plain their unwillingness to let through any fighting-age
males -- presumably for fear that male refugees might subsequently
join the anti-Serb resistance once safely out of Serb-besieged
communities. ... Remarkably, the United Nations and other
international agencies involved in refugee evacuation have
tended to accommodate themselves to the blatantly discriminatory
rules laid down by Serb occupiers. At the time of writing
(April 1993), for example, the news from Bosnia centres on
protracted attempts to secure the evacuation of civilians
from the besieged town of Srebrenica. Convoys of trucks have
evacuated women, children and old people, but the Serbian
requirement that no males with combat potential be carried
out overland has been respected -- as a glance at photographs
of the evacuation convoys makes clear.
... A certain voluntary element is likely to feature here.
The "women and children first" rule seems as operative
among besieged populations as it once was for ocean-liner
passengers abandoning ship. But it must also be relevant that,
as The New York Times reports, "during evacuations from
cities and towns surrendered to Serbian fighters in Bosnia
and Herzegovina and in neighboring Croatia, Serbian militia-men
have summarily executed men of fighting age."(74)
This implicit plea for intervention, if heeded, might have
required the following:
• a stronger line towards Serbs guarding checkpoints,
making it clear that "battle-age" civilian males
had the same guaranteed right of refuge under international
law as did any other members of the population, and perhaps
the use of force to defend convoys against Serb attempts to
seize and abuse these prime human targets;
• arguably, humanitarian emphasis on ensuring that all
"battle-age" civilian males, as the most vulnerable
members of the community, be given priority in the evacuation
process (recognizing that many would choose to stay behind
in favour of allowing other family members to leave first);(75)
• the mediation of an agreement between the two sides
that "battle-age" males evacuated to safety in Bosnian
government-held territory would be considered ineligible for
conscription or volunteering for military service, with such
arrangements monitored, as far as reasonably possible, by
the U.N. and other agencies.
Failure to implement such measures ensured that thousands
of Muslim males would remain in Srebrenica as fodder for genocide.
In June 1995, Bosnian Serb forces, pushing for a resolution
to the ethnic "anomaly" of the Muslim enclaves,
closed their noose around Srebrenica and the other safe areas.
Their actions, including the impending bloodbath, were closely
coordinated by authorities in Belgrade(76) and crucially assisted
by paramilitaries dispatched from across the Drina. In Srebrenica,
mass panic took hold of the civilian population. Women and
children gathered at the U.N. base of Potocari, together with
about 1,700 men, while most of the "battle-age"
males -- mainly unarmed civilians -- took to the hills in
a desperate attempt to flee Muslim-held territory to the west.
Watching them file off into the mountains on 14 July was the
Bosnian Serb General (and, since 1996, indicted war criminal),
Ratko Mladic. "It is going to be a meza," Mladic
reportedly told his troops -- Mark Danner translates the term
as "a long, luscious feast." "There will be
blood up to your knees."(77)
The better-armed head of the column, which included most of
the prominent citizens of the enclave and their families,
succeeded in breaking through the Serbs' "Ring of Iron"
on the main roads between Srebrenica and Muslim-held territory.
A vicious ambush by mortar and flak separated the head of
the column from the thousands of men, mostly unarmed, bringing
up the rear. The Bosnian Serb commander, Gen. Radivoj Krstic,
in a radio transmission intercepted by western eavesdroppers,
ordered his forces surrounding the trapped column: "You
must kill everyone. We don't need anyone alive."(78)
Serb forces took special pleasure in isolating the trees where
men had sought to hide, and riddling them with shrapnel from
their anti-aircraft guns. Trapped in the hills, sleepless
and thirst-maddened, men succumbed to hallucinations, paranoia,
and despair. Thousands surrendered to Serb troops along the
"Ring of Iron," who lured them with the sight of
captured UN vehicles and promises of safe passage. Those captured
ended up in surrounding fields and, shortly after, in mass
At Potocari, and then in fields and villages nearby, a more
systematic liquidation took place. Some 1700 men, disproportionately
elderly and infirm (the fit being concentrated on the "Trail
of Life and Death"), were separated from women and children.
They were led off by Serb occupying forces. As Ratko Mladic
postured and preened for his troops and the TV cameras, Dutch
peacekeepers meekly assented as the defining ritual of politico-military
gendercides against men was enacted in front of their eyes.
"The peacekeepers stood inches away from the Serb soldiers
who were separating the Muslim men, one by one, from their
families as they were allowed to pass and climb aboard."(79)
Children and women were bused away, with isolated exceptions,
to safety; men were carted away to their deaths. More than
one Dutch soldier found himself thinking of Auschwitz and
Schindler's List, but it was a different list that the Dutch
helped to compile -- a death-dealing rather than life-preserving
one. At Serb command, the Dutch drew up a registry of the
239 Bosnian men remaining in the camp, again mostly elderly
and infirm. Then they handed the men over to the Serbs:
One witness who spoke with these men maintains that they felt
that if they were handed over to the BSA, they would be killed.
This witness adds that these fears were expressed to the Dutchbat
Deputy Commander, who was also reminded that the bodies of
9-10 men had been found next to a nearby stream, having been
summarily executed. They pleaded not to be handed over to
the Serbs, but to no avail. Dutchbat then ordered them to
leave the compound and present themselves to the waiting Serbs.
The Dutchbat personnel concerned have since stated that they
did not believe they were handing these men over to certain
death, and that they believed the men would be treated by
the Serbs in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. They
felt that, having prepared a list of the names of those handed
over, the men would enjoy some degree of security. All 239
men on the list are still missing.(80)
Finally, "the Dutch reimbursed the Serb army for the
fuel burned in the buses and trucks used to expel Srebrenica's
women and children and to transport its menfolk to the execution
Many of the doomed men were trucked to the school gymnasium
in Bratunac that had served in 1992 as the site of a massacre
of some 350 men. There and nearby, they were detained, tortured,
and finally killed with axes, automatic weapons, and hand
grenades. Many hundreds more were massacred at a football
field near Nova Kasaba, the worst killing ground of the entire
five-day orgy of slaughter. Dutch soldiers detained in Nova
Kasaba heard "continuous shots from hand-held weapons
... coming from the direction of the football pitch ... for
three quarters of an hour to one hour." The following
morning two Dutch soldiers "reported that they had seen
between 500 and 700 bodies." Again, it remains a mystery
"why the Dutch did not find this eyewitness account of
a substantial massacre worth broadcasting to the outside world,
or indeed even worth mentioning at their press conference
in Zagreb more than a week later." Nor was the list of
239 men from the Potocari camp produced, though officials
would later claim that it was precisely to publicize their
plight that the Dutch had originally collaborated in compiling
In total, the Red Cross counted 7,079 people, virtually all
men and boys, missing and presumed dead at Srebrenica. Some
4,300 of their corpses had been exhumed as of May 2001.(83)
Women and children, with rare exceptions, were bused to safety
across government lines. Summarizing the Srebrenica catastrophe
in 1997, David Rohde offered a blistering critique of the
moral lapse on the part of the "safe area's" alleged
The international community partially disarmed thousands of
men, promised them they would be safeguarded and then delivered
them to their sworn enemies. Srebrenica was not simply a case
of the international community standing by as a far-off atrocity
was committed. The actions of the international community
encouraged, aided, and emboldened the executioners. ... The
fall of Srebrenica did not have to happen. There is no need
for thousands of skeletons to be strewn across eastern Bosnia.
There is no need for thousands of Muslim children to be raised
on stories of their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers
slaughtered by Serbs.(84)
The United Nations Secretary-General appeared to admit as
much with the publication of his report on the Srebrenica
fiasco in 1999. "The report blames serious misjudgments
on the part of the United Nations, misjudgments which included
an inability to recognize the 'scope of evil' confronting
the people of Srebrenica from Serb forces. The report says
NATO air strikes should have been authorized to stop the Serb
assault and that an arms embargo against Bosnia should have
been lifted."(85) It did not, however, explore the lessons
to be learned, in future attempts at humanitarian intervention,
from the specific vulnerabilities and grisly fate of "battle-age"
civilian males in Srebrenica. The lessons appear to me twofold:
1) maximize attention to this group, perhaps ahead of others,
in the periods of humanitarian crises in which largescale
killing is a background threat rather than a pressing reality
(in Srebrenica, between the fall of the "safe area"
in 1993 and the Serbian seizure of the city in 1995); and
2) when mass gender-selective killing erupts, devote whatever
resources are necessary, including military ones, to stop
This account of the Srebrenica massacre, along with the findings
reported in the section on "The Prelude Phase,"
suggest that international organizations like the U.N. urgently
need to develop programs and strategies that acknowledge younger
males as the most vulnerable target group in cases of state-directed
killing and repression; and that seek to protect this group
specifically, though not to the exclusion of others, when
genocidal outbreaks are recorded. Such a framing would constitute
nothing short of a paradigm shift, given the narrow definition
of "gender" that prevails in the IGO and NGO sphere.
But it is required if the gender variable is to be employed
in humanitarian emergencies and genocidal outbreaks with maximum
effectiveness and analytical insight.
A specific institutional innovation that should be considered
is the creation of a male-focused equivalent of the "Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on Violence Against
Women, Its Causes and Consequences," the position currently
held by Radhika Coomaraswamy of Sri Lanka.(87) The Special
Rapporteur for Violence Against Men could serve as the catalyst
for educational and activist efforts aimed at sensitizing
both publics and governments to the special vulnerabilities
of "battle-age" males in conflict situations and
state "crackdowns," broader patterns of gendered
violence against men and boys (rape in prisons, violence against
gay males, trafficking in male economic migrants, domestic
violence against young boys, male genital mutilation, "blood-feud"
and vigilante killings, and so on). He or she would also be
the ideal point-person for situations like the emerging pattern
of violence against younger males in Macedonia (see above).
The task in this case would be to call attention to the specific
gendering of violent victimization (as Human Rights Watch
so ably did in its bulletin on Macedonia); to stress that
younger ethnic-Albanian males enjoyed the same rights of security
of person as other human beings; to mobilize direct interventions
aimed at protecting besieged ethnic-Albanian males and/or
escorting them to safety; and to lobby representatives of
the offending government to cease violent abuses against this
population group. The Special Rapporteur could also monitor
the situation of younger-male refugees, who are vulnerable
to both traffickers and conscriptors. It is worth noting that
the Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Ms. Coomaraswamy,
intervened vocally and directly in the cases of both Kosovo
and East Timor, calling for women's human rights to be respected.
But there was no U.N. figure to express official concern over
the detention, torture, and selective or mass execution of
"battle-age" males, which constituted the majority
of the most severe atrocities inflicted in both these conflicts.
In the last decade or so, an impressive
literature has arisen in the International Relations field
around the growing role of non-governmental organizations
in global politics.(88) These organizations play a diversity
of roles in terms of providing catalyzing ideas for the formation
of international "regimes" around, for example,
human rights, women's issues, and the environment; the mobilization
and articulation of public opinion; and vigilance over the
actions of national governments and international institutions.
The latter institutions have become especially dependent upon
the research findings, organizational efforts, and "cutting-edge"
activism of the NGOs. Nowhere is this more evident than in
the human-rights sphere, where the international "mechanisms
rely almost exclusively upon NGO information," according
to Felice Gaer, and "human rights NGOs are the engine
for virtually every advance made by the United Nations in
the field of human rights since its founding." Amnesty
alone sends more than 500 communications a year to the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights. "Furthermore, the [UN] Working
Group on Arbitrary Detentions reported in 1995 that 74% of
the cases it took up in 1994 were brought by international
NGOs, another 23% came from national NGOs, and 3% from families."(89)
The agenda-setting power of the human-rights NGOs is therefore
considerable. How these NGOs address gendercidal killing and
other gender-selective human rights abuses therefore has a
direct bearing on international policy-formation in this area.
Accordingly, in this section I examine the performance of
the two leading human-rights NGOs, Amnesty International (AI)
and Human Rights Watch (HRW), in the context of the Kosovo
conflict of 1998-99. On balance, Amnesty's coverage allows
us to perceive many of the flaws and blind-spots in "gendering"
human-rights reportage, while Human Rights Watch, despite
certain weaknesses of its own, points in a much more promising
Before proceeding, it is worth citing a passage on abuses
and atrocities in Kosovo from the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s exceptional report, Kosovo/Kosova
As Seen, As Told. I am aware of nothing in the record that
contradicts the OSCE's conclusions, and they can therefore
be used as a yardstick to measure the performance of Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch:
Young men were the group that was by far the most targeted
in the conflict in Kosovo ... Clearly, there were many young
men involved in the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] ... but every
young Kosovo Albanian man was suspected of being a terrorist.
If apprehended by Serbian forces -- VJ [Yugoslav army], police
or paramilitary -- the young men were at risk, more than any
other group of Kosovo society, of grave human rights violations.
Many were executed on the spot, on occasion after horrendous
torture. Sometimes they would be arrested and taken to prisons
or other detention centres, where, as described afterwards
by men released from such detention, they would be tortured
and ill-treated, while others would simply not be seen again.
Others were taken for use as human shields or as forced labour.
Many young men "disappeared" following abduction.(91)
The OSCE report, which devotes a full chapter to the fate
of "Young Men of Fighting Age," is the only human-rights
report I have ever seen or heard of that isolates younger
males as a victimized group worthy of specific and detailed
attention. (The report also includes a chapter entitled "Women,"
and thus stands as a model of gender-inclusiveness.(92)) But
this framing was largely absent in the coverage of the Kosovo
conflict offered by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. At no
time in the Kosovo conflict did either of the major human
rights NGOs express specific concern about a pattern evident
to any observer -- that "Albanian men were particular
targets in the systematic Serb ethnic cleansing."(93)
Human Rights Watch did offer a considerable and commendable
amount of "gendered" commentary. But Amnesty, an
organization that has a particular responsibility to help
the "disappeared," chose virtually to "disappear"
males from its reporting, placing them at the very bottom
of its scale of priorities.
In general, Human Rights Watch deserves
praise for the scope and calibre of its reporting during the
Kosovo conflict. The organization issued literally dozens
of "human rights flashes" before, during, and after
the war. Their team in the field, led by Fred Abrahams, consistently
produced the most detailed and gut-wrenching accounts of the
major atrocities and acts of gendercide in Kosovo, notably
at Velika Krusa, Izbica, Meja, Vucitrn, and Pusto Selo.(94)
Moreover, Human Rights Watch at several points recognized
the specific vulnerability of males in particular locations
throughout Kosovo, and expressed concern for their plight.
A week or so into the NATO bombing campaign, for example,
the organization released its Human Rights Flash #13, entitled
"Serb Forces Separating Men from Women and Children in
Malishevo." The analysis, moreover, was exceedingly nuanced:
Interviews with refugees arriving in Albania today [April
1] established that Yugoslav forces were systematically separating
adult males from women, children, and elderly men in the Malishevo
area of Kosovo ... According to the refugees, thousands of
mostly unarmed ethnic Albanian men in the area have fled into
the mountains, fearing arrest and possible summary execution.
... According to refugees from the village of Ostrazuk, men
were systematically separated from their families and taken
away to an unknown location, after which the women and children
were ordered to leave the village. The refugees told Human
Rights Watch that the forces separating out the men were wearing
green uniforms of the Yugoslav army (VJ), with a smaller number
of forces in blue uniforms worn by the Serbian police (MUP).
The ethnic Albanian men were questioned about the whereabouts
of the Kosovo Liberation Army and of hidden guns before being
taken away. Refugees from other villages in the Malishevo
area told Human Rights Watch that thousands of unarmed men
had fled into the mountains in advance of the Serb offensive,
fearing for their lives. The fate of these men is unknown.
In a number of earlier incidents in the Kosovo conflict, and
in the Bosnian conflict, the Yugoslav army and Serb police
were responsible for the summary execution of unarmed, fighting-aged
men (emphasis added here and throughout this section).
Here a broader framing of the atrocities is briefly established,
with a reference not only to the immediate Kosovo context,
but to gender-selective atrocities and acts of gendercide
in Bosnia as well -- an important, and rare, hint of historical
context. A bulletin several days later on "Violent Ethnic
Cleansing in Dakovica" reiterated the point, though slightly
Many of the Dakovica refugees arrived without men aged between
twenty and fifty. According to the refugees, many of the men
had fled in the previous days to the mountains out of fear
of police retaliation. ... Human Rights Watch is particularly
worried about areas such as Dakovica where the men have been
left behind. In many of the forced depopulations documented
by Human Rights Watch since the NATO bombing began, the men
exited Kosovo together with their families. In some areas
-- namely Dakovica and Malisevo -- the men have either been
forcibly separated or have autonomously taken to the hills
to avoid capture. In some past instances, Serbian and Yugoslav
forces have executed ethnic Albanian men of fighting age (for
example in the village of Golubovac on September 26). ...(95)
The organization's coverage of incarcerated ethnic-Albanian
men was also detailed and insightful. The approximately 600
male prisoners released from Smrekovnica prison on May 22,
1999 were carefully debriefed -- and concern expressed urgently
for the fate of those who remained.(96) Consider, for example,
the following bulletin, entitled "Concern About Fate
of Detained Kosovar Albanian Men," which specifically
addressed the detention of male inmates at Smrekovnica prison
(albeit late in the game, after two months of war):
While the majority of the detainees were released [n.b. to
be replaced by new ones], the witnesses claim that a number
of men from the Kosovska Mitrovica area -- men who were arrested
in the days immediately prior to the witnesses' release --
are still being held at the Smrekonica [Smrekovnica] prison.
Human Rights Watch is extremely concerned about the safety
and well-being of those held in Smrekonica and other prisons,
and calls upon the Serbian authorities to release as soon
as possible those men against whom there is no evidence of
KLA membership. Moreover, the Serbian authorities should guarantee
the physical integrity of the detainees and provide them with
basic items such as food, water, mattresses, and blankets.(97)
Males drafted as corvée labourers received specific
attention in Human Rights Flash #35 early in May:
Refugees who have fled Kosovo during the past week also report
that Serbian forces have detained ethnic Albanian men and
forced them to dig trenches. Six refugees from the city of
Prizren who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch in northern
Albania reported that they had seen groups of ethnic Albanian
men being forced to work along the road between Prizren and
the border village of Vrbnica (Vernicë in Albanian).
Each of the refugees, interviewed separately, reported that
they had seen small groups of ethnic Albanian men being forced
to dig trenches while being guarded at gunpoint by Serbian
police or Yugoslav Army soldiers. ...
This coverage suggests both a surprising and a gratifying
amount of attention to the exceptional vulnerability of "battle-age"
ethnic-Albanian males. Some criticisms and concerns can nevertheless
be raised about HRW's performance during the Kosovo war.
In the first place, as noted, the organization never felt
it worthwhile to issue a bulletin on the pattern of summary
executions and detentions of males as such. The passages quoted
tended to be included in broader analyses of the conflict
-- although when allegations of the rape of women began to
circulate in substantial numbers, HRW was quick to issue not
just a bulletin ("Rape of Ethnic Albanian Women in Kosovo
Town of Dragacin")(98) but a detailed "backgrounder"
on the subject, entitled "Sexual Violence As International
Crime." This was one of the lengthiest reports issued
by Human Rights Watch during the war. It examined "sexual
violence as war crime," "as crimes against humanity,"
"as torture," and "as genocide"; considered
the question of "universal jurisdiction for international
crimes of sexual violence"; and described in detail the
past proceedings of criminal tribunals that heard evidence
on the subject from Bosnia and Rwanda.
By contrast, the pattern of gender-selective killing of "battle-age"
men in Kosovo and the wider Balkans wars was noted, but usually
late and in passing. The gendercide was never deemed relevant
subject material for "backgrounder" treatment, although
it was by any objective measure far greater and more systematic
an atrocity than the rape of women, in Kosovo and in the Balkans
wars as a whole. The organization also limited its concerns
for detained males to those at a single facility, or at a
particular location and point in the war. Again, the wider
pattern of gender-selective detention, at most times and in
most places across Kosovo, was never made the subject of a
specific bulletin. The most "gendered" treatment
of detainees, the coverage of those released from Smrekovnica
and those kidnapped to Serbia, occurred so late in the war
as to be largely irrelevant.
There is, nonetheless, a solid foundation in HRW's coverage
for an inclusive conceptualizing of gender-selective victimization
and vulnerability. HRW's dedicated staff would be well-advised
to build on that foundation, and to assist in the further
exploration of this "other -cide" of gender-selective
By comparison, Amnesty International's performance during
the Kosovo conflict was nothing short of parlous. At no point
before or during the 1999 war did Amnesty devote meaningful
attention to the pattern of gender-selective mass execution,
abuse, and detention of "battle-age" males -- though
these clearly accounted for the war's central, most systematic,
and most severe atrocities.
The organization's obfuscation of this theme was well-established
by the time fullscale war broke out in Kosovo in March 1999.
The early part of 1998 witnessed a Serb offensive in which
gender-selective mass executions, detentions, and "disappearances"
of non-combatant males also featured as a dominant strategy.
The same strategy was an equally glaring feature of the renewed
offensive in Summer 1998, as with the massacre at the village
of Racak in January 1999. But Amnesty's reports from the region
emphasized a different "gendering" of the human-rights
situation. "Human Rights Violations Against Women in
Kosovo Province" were deemed worthy of a full report
as early as August 1998. It began as follows:
In areas of civil turmoil or armed conflict, women are particularly
vulnerable to human rights violations. They are often subjected
to brutal treatment simply because they live in a particular
location or belong to a particular group. This report aims
to illustrate the human rights situation of women, primarily
ethnic Albanian women, in Kosovo ... by highlighting a number
of representative cases. The report does not claim to depict
the full range and severity of human rights violations against
women which have taken place and which, as armed conflict
persists, continue to occur daily. Ethnic Albanian women are
the victims of human rights abuse now, but since the early
1980s there have been cases in which ethnic Albanian women
have shared the fate of many of their menfolk and like them
have been arbitrarily detailed, ill-treated and convicted
in unfair trials. With the outbreak of armed conflict, they
now also face mass forced displacement and the risk of deliberate
and arbitrary killings.(99)
The passage begged a rather important question: how could
women be "particularly vulnerable," when the abuses
referred to were "cases" in which they had simply
"shared the fate of many of their menfolk"? (Many
more of their menfolk, is the unspoken implication.) The following
month, Amnesty did deign to report on "The Hidden Victims
of Conflict" in Kosovo. The reference was not, however,
to the victims hidden by their own coverage. The report concerned
"Disappeared and Missing Persons," and the gender
variable was invisible in the framing. The introduction deployed
an impressive range of "displacement" strategies
to marginalize gender from the equation (see further discussion
of these strategies in "The Mass Media," below):
Ethnic Albanians unseen since entering police stations or
being led away by Serbian police ... Serbs and Albanians taken
from vehicles stopped by the armed ethnic Albanian opposition,
hauled off trains, or unseen since armed Albanians came to
their homes ... People unaccounted for in the aftermath of
armed police operations or military engagements, who may be
among the hastily and anonymously buried ... In Kosovo province
the "disappeared" and "missing" come from
all ethnic groups. The police are believed to be responsible
for the "disappearance" of ethnic Albanians. Many
of those who have "disappeared" were reported to
have been arrested and led away by police, either captured
or detained ... The KLA has been accused of the abduction
and presumed unlawful killing or detention of ethnic Albanians
whom it alleges are "collaborators" with the Serbian
authorities ... Other victims include members of the Serbian,
Montenegrin, Romani and other ethnic groups. ... It is still
to early to ascertain accurate statistics for "missing"
or "disappeared" ethnic Albanians ...
When we look at the body of the report, we find a reference
to "a disturbing series of reported 'disappearances'
as well as many cases of 'missing' persons and others who
are unaccounted for. It is feared that some -- perhaps all
-- of these people are no longer alive." But the detailed
description of the atrocities tells a discernibly different,
though parallel, tale:
Ahmet Berisha (40), Hajriz Hajdini (48), Muhamet Hajdini,
(45), Sahit Qorri (60), Sefer Qorri (55), Ferat Hoti (39),
Rama Asllani (60) and Blerin Shishani (15) were inhabitants
of Novi Poklek (Poklek i Ri), a settlement which was built
in recent years on the edge of Glogovac close to a factory
called Feronikl. On 31 May a large operation was mounted by
police in and around the settlement. ... After firing at the
houses from a distance, patrols of police reportedly started
to go from house to house in the settlement, ordering the
inhabitants out of the buildings. Many of them were reportedly
collected in a house in the settlement where men were separated
from women and children. The women and children were directed
to leave. Reports of the events include allegations that nine
or more men were killed. Despite the lack of confirmed information,
the whereabouts of the eight men named above who were reportedly
detained by the police remains unknown. Amnesty International
believes that these eight men have "disappeared,"
and may have been the victims of extrajudicial executions.
The bodies of two other men, Ardian Deliu (18) and Fidai Shishani
(17), were reportedly found at the scene, but it has not yet
been possible to establish the circumstances of their death.
Several different rumours about the fate of the "disappeared"
men have circulated, including claims that bodies or body
parts have been seen in the village; that the police were
seen apparently transporting prisoners in the direction of
the Feronikl factory where they are being held, or that they
have been killed and buried in a mass grave. ...
All of this was an obvious prelude to the gendercidal strategies
followed in the Serb military attack; but throughout the report,
and throughout the Kosovo war, Amnesty remained unable to
connect the dots. There was no report entitled "Human
Rights Violations Against Men [or 'Battle-Age' Men] in Kosovo
Amnesty's report on the notorious Racak massacre of January
1999 was similarly obtuse. "The truth behind the killings
of 45 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo must be found," it declared.
"The victims' bodies -- including three women, a 12-year-old
[male] child and several elderly men -- were found on 16 January
..." Thus, 42 out of 45 male victims, the vast majority
of them "battle-age." The organization announced
sagely that "This brutal crime is chillingly similar
to the first reports of large-scale killings of ethnic Albanian
civilians, less than one year ago." How, precisely? Again,
the skein of gender was all but impossible to tease out in
Amnesty's account: "Many of the victims had reportedly
been shot through the head at close range and some showed
signs of mutilation. The victims appeared to be local villagers
... possibly with some members of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA) among them. As background on the atrocity,
Amnesty offered this:
Over 2,000 people died after armed conflict erupted in Kosovo
province in February 1998. Many of them were extra-judicially
executed or deliberately and arbitrarily killed. Some 700
people, the majority ethnic Albanians but also including over
a hundred Serbs, remain unaccounted for. At least 1,000 ethnic
Albanians were detained by the Serbian authorities in 1998.
Amnesty International has evidence that many of them were
tortured or ill-treated in custody. As many as five [?] may
have died in 1998 as a result of injuries sustained during
brutal interrogations. Many of the detainees are currently
being tried even though there is no solid evidence to support
the charges against them.
Amnesty did, in this release, have the good grace -- uniquely
in these bulletins -- to fleetingly gender the detainees rounded
up at the time of the Racak massacre, and to express its standard
concern for their fate: "As villagers fled their homes,
some men were reportedly arrested by Serbian police and taken
to the Stimlje police station. Amnesty International is extremely
concerned that those arrested may be tortured and ill-treated
in police custody and is urging the authorities to protect
them."(100) It would be months -- not until after the
Kosovo war had ended -- before an Amnesty press release would
again address the fate of detained men in Kosovo. Even such
fleeting gestures as the one just cited were utterly absent
from the organization's public record throughout the war.
In Amnesty's wartime press releases -- the bulletins that
alerted the mass media and policy circles to the human rights
issues it considered most pressing -- I have found only three
mentions of the pattern and policy of detaining and executing
"battle-age" Kosovar males. None of the bulletins
focused on the subject. In fact, the first bulletin -- issued
on April 1 -- left the subject to the final paragraph of an
eleven-paragraph release: "Particularly disturbing are
a series of reports describing how men of military age were
separated from the women, children and elderly men. It has
not proved possible to confirm these reports, but the proportion
of men among the refugees crossing the borders out of Kosovo
is small."(101) If the reports were indeed "particularly
disturbing," why were they not touched on until the last
paragraph of the bulletin? And why was no bulletin or background
piece issued on the subject? Contrast this with the Human
Rights Watch bulletin, "Serb Forces Separating Men from
Women and Children in Malishevo," issued on the same
A week later, Amnesty International returned to the reports
of gender-selective atrocities, this time in a bulletin about
refugees, whose plight was predictably uppermost. "Many
of those attempting to leave Kosovo -- mainly women, children
and elderly people -- had been waiting to cross for up to
five days, and are weak from lack of food and exhaustion."
Five paragraphs later, Amnesty reported:
Refugees in Northern Albania have eye-witness tales of systematic
extra-judicial executions carried out by security forces and
paramilitary groups while forcing people out of their homes
in towns and villages. Although the accuracy of such reports
is difficult to confirm due to the lack of access for foreign
journalists and other international observers, many of them
appear credible. A disproportionate number of those who have
succeeded in fleeing the country are women, children and elderly
men. Many of those arriving continue to testify that during
the expulsion or their flight they were stopped by members
of the Serbian police, armed forces or paramilitaries, who
separated the men from the women and children. The men were
either detained while the women and children were ordered
to continue their journey, or rounded up and taken away. Other
refugees have reported being detained and used as human shields
by the security forces in clashes with the KLA.
So ended the main part of the bulletin, and the discussion
of the subject. There was no expression of concern for those
detained; no declaration that Amnesty held the Yugoslav authorities
responsible for their safe return; no follow-up on what their
fate might have been; no bulletin issued specifically on their
behalf. Rather, as noted, the bulletin focused on the plight
of the "womenandchildren" refugees, and all normative
injunctions were devoted to their situation and urgent requirements:
"These people urgently need medical attention and have
nothing to go back to. ... No refugee should be sent to a
third country unless it is voluntary ... The places so far
offered [to refugees] are only a fraction of the total required
..."(102) A concluding section provided "background"
on the abuses discussed in the bulletin. Again, all concerned
the refugee flow, and the strain it had imposed on neighbouring
The closest Amnesty came to acknowledging the gendercide in
Kosovo came the following day, with a bulletin on "Killings
in the Kacanik Area." The killings, to be specific, were
"of at least four men and the 'disappearance' of at least
22 men ... who hid in the woods during the [Serb] offensive
[and] remain unaccounted for. Amnesty International is seriously
concerned about their fate, and is seeking further information
about them."(103) There was no indication that such killings
were part of a wider pattern. On May 12, 1999, a full month-and-a-half
into the gendercide, Amnesty issued a report, "Killings
and 'disappearance' in Ade village," describing "the
killings of four [!] men, and the 'disappearance' of another
[!] at the hands of Serbian security forces."(104)
On May 22, 1999, as noted earlier, hundreds of Kosovar men
were released from Smrekovnica prison near Mitrovica, and
made their way in handcuffs to refuge in Albania. Brendan
Paddy, an Amnesty representative, expressed relief at seeing
a sizeable number of "battle-age" males emerging
from Kosovo. "We have been extremely concerned about
reports of people being removed from convoys, particularly
youngish men detained at Smrekovnica," he told The Washington
Post. "We were very relieved to see a significant number
of them cross the border. Sometimes it's nice to be wrong."(105)
While Paddy's relief was understandable, his statements raised
serious questions. Where was the evidence of Amnesty's "extreme
concern" -- for example, a single bulletin on the subject
of detained males at Smrekovnica and elsewhere? And rather
than the pat "nice-to-be-wrong" formulation, where
was Paddy's -- and Amnesty's -- concern for the hundreds of
men that the refugees described as still under detention --
most for periods rather longer than the "weak,"
"emaciated," "very traumatized" prisoners
freed in May? (We now know that this same weekend witnessed
the mass slaughter of about 100 male inmates at Istok prison,
following a NATO bombing raid on the facility.)
Late in the war, Amnesty finally got around to issuing a bulletin
on the massacre of well over 100 Kosovar men at Izbica --
a full week after Human Rights Watch had issued its superior,
stomach-churning report on the killings. Amnesty's bulletin
was titled: "Civilians rounded up and murdered by Serbian
forces." "What is clear from these testimonies is
that our fears that civilians of the Drenica region were murdered
by Serbian security forces between 25 and 28 March are not
unfounded," though the organization had released no bulletin
expressing its "fears," let alone one focusing on
the gender-selective character of the "civilian"
extermination at Izbica. This was the case even though the
release began, with impressive obliviousness, by presenting
one of the more succinct survivor's account of this act of
The women were ordered to depart with the elderly and children
... The men were lined up in two rows, and told to turn their
backs. The soldiers then opened fire on the group with automatic
weapons. Bodies fell on top of me and I was able to feign
death until the soldiers left.(106)
The press release concluded by describing mass graves in the
vicinity, filled with male corpses, as video footage released
at the time clearly showed. Amnesty noted the footage of "the
burial of the victims," suggesting that the site contained
"151 bodies," some of whom "were KLA combatants."
The organization stated its belief nonetheless that "some
of these bodies [were] of civilians who were killed by Serbian
security forces or indiscriminately killed during shelling
... Amnesty International cannot confirm the manner in which
these people died." The contrast with the much more detailed,
powerful, and prompt reporting of Izbica by Human Rights Watch
again did no credit to Amnesty.
One wonders what difference a concerted bombardment of e-mail
messages from Amnesty's global network of supporters might
have made to the progress of the gendercide? Might it have
lent a little weight to the hardline versus softline elements
of the Yugoslav armed forces? How might a concerted campaign
of bulletins expressing concern for the fate of the missing
men have influenced the wider public discussion and policy
agenda? We will, unfortunately, never know. But some sense
of the contribution Amnesty could have made to the protection
of ethnic-Albanian men's human rights in Kosovo was suggested
by its belated attention to the fate of remaining detainees
in Serb hands. On June 23 -- after an estimated 2,000 prisoners
were shipped off to Serbia by retreating Yugoslav forces --
Amnesty issued a bulletin on the subject, and the international
wire services lit up like a Christmas tree.(107)
Why did the detainees suddenly become noteworthy only after
the war was over and they were transported to Serbia? Many
had been languishing in grossly-overcrowded conditions, exposed
to regular beatings and torture and perhaps selective executions,
for weeks or even months. And why, even now, could Amnesty
only acknowledge that (genderless) "People have been
detained for expressing dissenting views, for refusing military
service on conscientious grounds or simply because of their
ethnic origin"?(108) The majority of male detainees had
been imprisoned not for refusing military service but for
being deemed capable of it. They were targeted first on grounds
of ethnicity -- which Amnesty could not miss; and secondly,
according to variables of gender and age -- to which Amnesty
remained oblivious, in its public pronouncements at least.(109)
Could some of this inattention perhaps be excused by the argument
that Amnesty's task is not, fundamentally, to address mass
killings, but the detention of prisoners, primarily those
deemed "political"? If the argument is to be sustained,
it must be explained why Amnesty felt justified in pronouncing
on a whole range of "non-traditional" issues during
the war. It addressed itself to the U.N. Security Council
and denounced the "chronic neglect of consistent warnings
by human rights organisations" and "the absence
of redress for all Kosovo's people" as underlying the
crisis and war in the province.(110) It accused Macedonia
of "playing politics with refugees" through "frequent
closures of the border." This, it declared in solidarity
with the UNHCR (whose purview this might ordinarily have been),
constituted "an unacceptable intrusion of politics in
the humanitarian response to refugees in crisis."(111)
And, as we have seen, Amnesty was amply aware of Kosovar women's
(much lesser) vulnerability to "deliberate and arbitrary
These critical comments should be seen as motivated by a strong
appreciation for the stellar work Amnesty International has
done over the decades, and the space it has carved for itself
in the public debate and the international policy arena. But
the inability or unwillingness to grasp the essence of the
gendercide, and to take Amnesty's time-honoured steps to intervene
(urgent actions, special reports and bulletins, etc.) was
nothing less than an abdication of responsibility on the organization's
part. Both the human rights NGOs discussed here could benefit
by a broadening of their frameworks and the development of
specific working groups and initiatives to address human-rights
abuses against males, particularly "battle-age"
males. But in Amnesty's case, the need for an overhaul of
performance and policy appears far-reaching..
Humanitarian intervention, especially in
the age of media spectacle, is concentrated upon discrete
events. Emergency situations arise and are dealt with or not.
One way or another, the crisis eventually passes, and the
peacekeepers and aid agencies pick up and move on, perhaps
leaving behind a skeletal presence of monitors. This "firefighting"
approach is entirely unable to engage with more structurally-entrenched
crises, especially those spawned by institutions -- including
Gendercidal institutions are most destructive in their impact
upon females. The phenomenon of female infanticide is likely
responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, mostly
in China and India. It has at least attracted significant
attention internationally.(112) Much less well-known is the
crisis of maternal mortality. In a 1996 report, UNICEF called
the issue "in scale and severity the most neglected tragedy
of our times," citing a staggering 585,000 women who
die annually from complications arising from pregnancy and
childbirth. And "these are not deaths like other deaths,"
the organization noted:
They die, these hundreds of thousands of women whose lives
come to an end in their teens and twenties and thirties, in
ways that set them apart from the normal run of human experience.
Over 200,000 die of haemorrhaging, violently pumping blood
onto the floor of bus or bullock cart or blood-soaked stretcher
as their families and friends search in vain for help. About
75,000 more die from attempting to abort their pregnancy themselves.
Some will take drugs or submit to violent massage. Alone or
assisted, many choose to insert a sharp object -- a straightened
coat-hanger, a knitting-needle, or a sharpened stick -- through
the vagina into the uterus. Some 50,000 women and girls attempt
such procedures every day. Most survive, though often with
crippling discomfort, pelvic inflammatory disease, and a continuing
foul discharge. And some do not survive: with punctured uterus
and infected wound, they die in pain and alone, bleeding and
frightened and ashamed.
Perhaps 75,000 more die with brain and kidney damage in the
convulsions of eclampsia, a dangerous condition that can arise
in late pregnancy and has been described by a survivor as
"the worst feeling in the world that can possibly be
imagined." Another 100,000 die of sepsis, the bloodstream
poisoned by a rising infection from an unhealed uterus or
from retained pieces of placenta, bringing fever and hallucinations
and appalling pain. Smaller but still significant numbers
die of an anaemia so severe that the muscles of the heart
fail. And as many as 40,000 a year die of obstructed labour
-- days of futile contractions repeatedly grinding down the
skull of an already asphyxiated baby onto the soft tissues
of a pelvis that is just too small. In the 1990s so far, three
million young women have died in one or more of these ways.
And they continue to die at the rate of 1,600 every day, yesterday
and today and tomorrow. For the most part, these are the deaths
not of the ill or of the very old or of the very young, but
of healthy women in the prime of their lives upon whom both
young and old may depend.(113)
Can this be considered gendercide? Surely, by now, it is well-accepted
in the human-rights discourse that negligence and conscious
oversight can themselves be means of inflicting murder on
a genocidal scale. Human Rights Watch has noted in the case
of communal violence that "a pattern of [government]
discrimination" may be evident if conduct "is intended
to or can be reasonably expected to lead to intercommunal
conflict." The discrimination may include:
• failure to provide physical protection for vulnerable
communities under attack from private actors;
• failure to prosecute those responsible for attacks
on targeted communities, whether these are state agents or
• persistent official representation of members of a
targeted community, in media and official comments, as less
than full citizens or as deserving of less than full respect;
• suppression of dissent by those (of whatever origin)
who oppose attacks on or discrimination against the targeted
• and discriminatory legislation, which denies full
status and recourse to members of the targeted community with
regard to their rights as citizens of the nation.(114)
Such a framework can be "gendered" to encompass
the institutional discrimination, leading to physical victimization,
that occurs on a massive scale with maternal mortality in
the underdeveloped world. Fundamental is the failure of most
states to provide physical protections, in the form of access
to a safe and hygienic natal environment. The suppression
and marginalization of women in most respects, and in most
countries of the world, is brought about in precisely the
way Human Rights Watch describes. The tools at the disposal
of the government and ruling elites include control over the
mechanisms and policies of the state administration (and thus
the possibility to implement or not implement safe conditions
for women and their children). They also include control over
the "commanding heights" of the culture -- the ability
to selectively choose the subjects and viewpoints that will
be presented for discussion, and the allowable range of debate.
Such strategies have long been used to keep women as "second-class
citizens" throughout most of the world.(115)
In addressing these institutionalized crises, perhaps what
is needed is a new concept of humane intervention -- one that
will promote the longterm commitment of resources and sustained
campaigns, rather than the kind of limited disaster-relief
efforts that usually pass for "humanitarian intervention."
If the problems are structural, the solutions will have to
be as well. They must involve paradigmatic rethinkings of
obligations and priorities. For example, to confront maternal
mortality globally with the success that a poor Third World
country, Cuba, has attained domestically would involve training
some 850,000 health workers, and assigning the necessary drugs
and equipment. The total cost would be about US \$200 million,
according to UNICEF and World Health Organization reports.
This is the price of half a dozen jet fighters.
A fundamental rethinking of gendercidal institutions that
are accepted and validated by the liberal-democratic countries
of the industrialized West is also urgently required -- perhaps
especially in the sphere of gendercidal institutions that
target males predominantly or almost exclusively. Three examples
can be cited here: the death penalty, military conscription/impressment,
and corvée (forced) labour. All three of these have
received case-study treatment on the Gendercide Watch site,
but it is worth dwelling for a moment on corvée. Readers
may be as astonished as I was to learn that forced labour,
an institution that has killed millions if not tens of millions
of people, overwhelmingly younger males, in its history, is
not today banned under international labour legislation. Rather,
its imposition is legitimized for one group and one group
only: able-bodied adult males. Article 11 of the International
Labour Organization's Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory
Labour -- passed in 1930, and still in effect today -- states
that "Only adult able-bodied males who are of an apparent
age of not less than 18 and not more than 45 years may be
called upon for forced or compulsory labour," so long
as "they are physically fit for the work required and
for the conditions under which it is to be carried out"
and "the number of adult able-bodied men indispensable
for family and social life" is allowed to remain in communities
targeted for forced labour. (Specifically, the Convention
states that "the proportion of the resident adult able-bodied
males who may be taken at any one time for forced or compulsory
labour ... shall in no case exceed 25 per cent.")(116)
In addition, in contrast to the "absolute prohibition"
on female forced labour, male-dominated military conscription
is exempted from forced-labour regulations, so long as the
labour is used for military purposes. In drafting the Convention,
the ILO reports, "there was general agreement that compulsory
military service as such should remain beyond the purview
of the Convention." Prison labour, again overwhelmingly
a male phenomenon, is also exempted.(117) Clearly, any international
campaign against gender discrimination in forced-labour legislation
-- such as the one that Gendercide Watch is now mounting(118)
-- must inevitably spill over into a reevaluation of military
conscription and the economics of incarceration. Confronting
such powerful and deeply-ingrained institutions head-on can
be a dispiriting task, since the challenges seem so immense
and the readiness to engage in radical rethinking so limited.
Much the same challenges, however, had to be faced in eliminating
the closely-related scourge of slavery in the 19th century.
The fact that efforts at amelioration and elimination proved
possible, indeed were successful in a remarkably short period,
offers grounds for hope.
This paper has argued for the wide-ranging
inclusion of a gender framework into analyses of international
politics, genocide, and humanitarian intervention. It has
suggested that, while the study of women and girls and their
special vulnerabilities in emergency situations is well advanced,
virtually no attention has been paid to the specific vulnerabilities
and victimization experiences of men and boys. Until this
range of experiences is integrated into an inclusive gender
framework, only limited investigations of the multifaceted
"gendering" of these phenomena will be possible,
and distorted policymaking will tend to result. Politico-military
gendercide against males, featuring sex-selective massacres
and other atrocities, is an important and largely unrecognized
subject for scholarly study and political activism. Key institutions
of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organization, along
with the mass media, have been critiqued for marginalizing
and displacing the male victim in their discourse. At the
same time, the role of gendercidal institutions such as maternal
mortality and corvée labour has been reduced to a background
feature in the human-rights equation, which remains concentrated
on emergencies narrowly bounded in time and space. A new concept
of "humane" intervention would assist in confronting
such phenomena, which are deeply entrenched in social structure
and historical practice.
1. R.B.J. Walker, "Gender and Critique
in the Theory of International Relations," in V. Spike
Peterson, ed., Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International
Relations Theory (Boulder, CO, and London: Westview Press,
1992), p. 179.
2. For an overview of the feminist-I.R. literature through
to 1994, see Adam Jones, "Does 'Gender' Make the World
Go Round? Feminist Critiques of International Relations,"
Review of International Studies, 22 (1996), pp. 405-29. For
a rejoinder, see Terrell Carver, et al., "Gendering Jones:
Feminisms, IRs, Masculinities," Review of International
Studies, 24 (1998), pp. 283-97. See also Craig Murphy, "Seeing
Women, Recognizing Gender, Recasting International Relations,"
International Organization, 50 (1996), pp. 513-38; Charlotte
Hooper, "Masculinities, IR and the 'Gender Variable':
A Cost-Benefit Analysis for (Sympathetic) Gender Sceptics,"
Review of International Studies, 25 (1999), pp. 475-91. Standard
full-length works on gender and international relations include
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Women and War (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1995); Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and
Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1990); Mary K. Meyer and Elisabeth
Prügl, eds., Gender Politics in Global Governance (Lanham:
Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); Jan Jindy Pettman, Worlding
Women: A Feminist International Politics (London: Routledge,
1996); V. Spike Peterson, ed., Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions
of International Relations Theory (Boulder, CO: Westview Press,
1992); V. Spike Peterson and Anne Sisson Runyan, Global Gender
Issues (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993); Jill Steans, Gender
and International Relations: An Introduction (New Brunswick,
NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998); Christine Sylvester,
Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern
Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); and J.
Ann Tickner, Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives
on Achieving Global Security (New York: Columbia University
3. See Jones, "Does 'Gender' ...," pp. 420-21.
4. Jones, "Does 'Gender' ...," pp. 426-27.
5. See, e.g., Carver, et al., "Gendering Jones";
Cynthia Weber, "IR: The Resurrection, or New Frontiers
of Incorporation," European Journal of International
Relations, 5: 4 (1999), pp. 435-50.
6. See, e.g., Elshtain, Women and War (Boston: Beacon Press,
1987); Cynthia Enloe, Maneuvers: The International Politics
of Militarizing Women's Lives (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1999), and my review of Maneuvers in Contemporary Politics
(forthcoming, June 2001); Cynthia Cockburn, "Gender,
Armed Conflict, and Political Violence," World Bank background
paper, June 1999 <http://www.worldbank.org/html/prmge/info/Cockburn2.doc>.
7. Ruth Jacobson et al., "Introduction: States of Conflict,"
in Susie Jacobs et al., eds., States of Conflict: Gender,
Violence and Resistance (London: Zed Books, 2000), p. 1; see
also chs. 4, 9, 10.
8. Judy El-Bushra, "Gender and Forced Migration: Editorial,"
Forced Migration Review, issue 9 (December 2000). See also
Cathrine Brun's contribution to the issue, "Making Young
Displaced Men Visible."
9. R. Charli Carpenter, "Gender Theory in World Politics:
Contributions of a Non-Feminist Standpoint," unpublished
paper, 2001, pp. pp. 2, 4, 17.
10. Jones, "Gendercide and Genocide," p. 197.
11. Ronit Lentin, ed., Gender & Catastrophe (London: Zed
12. Ronit Lentin, "Introduction: (En)gendering Genocides,"
in Lentin, ed., Gender & Catastrophe, pp. 1, 6.
13. See, e.g., Alexandra Stiglmayer, Mass Rape: The War Against
Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (University of Nebraska Press,
1994); Beverly Allen, Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (University of Minnesota Press,
1996); Sara Sharratt and Ellyn Kaschak, eds., Assault on the
Soul: Women in the Former Yugoslavia (Haworth Press, 1999);
Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic, ed., Women, Violence and War: Wartime
Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans (Central European
University Press, 2000); and Julie A. Mertus, War's Offensive
on Women: The Humanitarian Challenge in Bosnia, Kosovo and
Afghanistan (Kumarian Press, 2000). Most of the gendering
of the Balkans wars has therefore focused on women's rape
experiences; there has been no concomitant treatment of sexual
assaults and other abuses against detained males in Bosnia
and elsewhere, though in numbers and severity they may more
than match the atrocities inflicted on women. I am currently
engaged in a joint research project with Augusta C. Del Zotto
on the theme of male rape victims in Bosnia, for presentation
to the International Studies Association conference in New
Orleans in 2002; please contact me for further information.
14. For some discussion of the gendering of "worthy"
versus "unworthy" victims in media coverage of genocidal
attacks -- in this case, the Serb campaign against Kosovar
Albanians -- see Adam Jones, "Effacing the Male: Gender,
Misrepresentation, and Exclusion in the Kosovo War,"
Transitions (multiple issues), 2001, available at <http://adamjones.freeservers.com/effacing.htm>.
15. Stuart Stein, "Geno- and Other Cides," forthcoming
in Journal of Genocide Research, 4: 1 (Spring 2002).
16. I defend my usage of "gendercide" at greater
length in my article "Problems of Gendercide," forthcoming
in Journal of Genocide Research, 4: 1 (Spring 2002).
17. Warren defined gendercide as "the deliberate extermination
of persons of a particular sex (or gender)" (emphasis
added). See Warren, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection
(Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1985), p. 22; and the
discussion in Jones, "Gendercide and Genocide,"
18. Even those who feel that the "gender" prefix
is unduly stretched in its application should acknowledge
that "genocide" has proved similarly malleable,
moving, in most applications, beyond the ethnic connotations
of "geno-" (Greek: "race, tribe") to encompass
other groups, particularly those designated by common political
affiliation; and to encompass acts that fall well short of
literal "-cide" (killing). The use of "genocide"
to encompass acts that are not explicitly murderous is, of
course, enshrined in the Genocide Convention of 1948. For
the extension of the term to cover political (and "sexual")
groups, see the excerpts from the report of U.N. Special Rapporteur
Ben Whitaker ("The Whitaker Report") in Israel W.
Charny, ed., Encyclopedia of Genocide (ABC-CLIO, 1999), pp.
19. I believe I can claim to have travelled some analytical
distance in all three areas: e.g., by emphasizing the particular
vulnerabilities of "battle-age" males to gendercidal
massacre; by commissioning an article for the forthcoming
special issue of Journal of Genocide Research on the theme
of biotechnology and potential gendercide against gays and
lesbians; and by exploring discourses of humanitarian crisis
and intervention in both "Effacing the Male" and
in "Gender and Genocide in Rwanda" (forthcoming
in Journal of Genocide Research, Spring 2002).
20. Carpenter also criticizes my use of the term "mass
killing" as being somewhat woolly. I agree that it has
imprecisions, as does virtually all terminology in these subject-areas.
In common parlance, it tends to refer to "any killing
of four or more victims at one time and place" (the FBI
definition; see <http://jove.prohosting.com/~mclough/massmurder.htm>,
including the author's discussion of problems with this definition).
Importantly, though, I believe that "mass killing"
can also be applied to largescale killings that may, at ground
level, be carried out by individuals against individuals,
with the acts removed from one another in time and space,
but bounded territorially and temporally nonetheless, and
linked to a larger plan, strategy, or institutionally patterned
behaviour. If every willing and unwilling executioner in Rwanda,
for example, had killed just one Tutsi or oppositionist Hutu
-- 800,000 perpetrators killing 800,000 victims in twelve
weeks -- could we not speak of the "mass killing"
of Tutsis and oppositionist Hutus? Note also the common usage
of "mass rape" to define widescale sexual assaults
in the Balkans, Bangladesh, Japanese-occupied China, and other
conflict areas. Does this require that women are brought together
in a confined limited space and then raped all together and
at once? Or does "mass rape" instead generally consist
of the planned, repeated, systematic sexual assault of individual
women on separate occasions?
21. Carpenter may agree, noting that the gendercide framework
has "swiftly generated a body of genocide research that
specifically focuses on sex-selectivity in patterns of mass
killing," succeeded in disseminating "provocative"
writings to the mainstream, and drawn "much traffic and
acclaim" to the Gendercide Watch website since its founding.
One urgent requirement for a serious study of gendercidal
killing is the development of a data-base of case-studies.
This is the main function of the Gendercide Watch website,
which now posts 22 detailed analyses (between six and twenty
pages, printed) of historical and contemporary gendercides,
as well as gendercidal institutions (female infanticide, "honour"
killings and blood feuds, corvée labour, and so on).
The research involved in preparing these case-studies is quite
significant, since teasing out the gendercidal thread in human
history and institutions is often akin to searching for nearly-invisible
needles in haystacks of scholarly and media accounts. Without
such a broad data-base, however, the most minimal comparative
frameworks -- of the type advanced in "Gendercide and
Genocide" -- are impossible. One function of these case-studies
(and of the gendercide theory as a whole) is to serve as a
"plausibility probe" for future research. It is
quite reasonable, for example, for Carpenter to question inclusion
of the case-study of the 1989 "Montréal Massacre"
of 14 young women at the École Polytechnique <http://www.gendercide.org/case_montreal.html>.
Can this truly be considered an "act of gendercide,"
as the case-study suggests? Many feminist scholars who have
considered the slaughter within the broader framework of male
violence against women would likely argue that it can be.
Counter-arguments are also possible; but in preparing the
Montréal Massacre study, I preferred to err on the
side of inclusion. The subject at least seems to merit discussion
and debate, and the event in itself requires analyzing and
memorializing. It bothers me very little if a reader emerges
from the case-study, and others, saying "Well, I wouldn't
necessarily call that gendercide, but the events are certainly
something to think about and be concerned about."
22. See the overview of genocide "early warning systems"
in Charny, ed., The Encyclopedia of Genocide, pp. 261-67;
and the work of the organizations Genocide Watch and Prevent
Genocide International .
23. Eugen Kogon, The Theory and Practice of Hell (Berkley
paperback edition, 1980), pp. 176-79.
24. Joan Ringelheim, "Genocide and Gender: A Split Memory,"
in Lentin, ed., Gender & Catastrophe, pp. 21, 23. For
a typical example of gendered Nazi discourse, see the S.S.
pamphlet cited by Jonathan Glover in Humanity: A Moral History
of the Twentieth Century (New Haven and London: Yale University
Press, 1999), p. 339: "From a biological point of view
he [the Jew] seems completely normal. He has hands and feet
and a sort of brain. He has eyes and a mouth. But, in fact,
he is a completely different creature, a horror. He only looks
human, with a human face, but his spirit is lower than that
of an animal. A terrible chaos runs rampant in this creature,
an awful urge for destruction, primitive desires, unparalleled
evil, a monster, subhuman."
25. African Rights, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance, Revised
Edition (London: African Rights, 1995), p. 385.
26. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, p. 587.
27. Amnesty International, "Police violence in Kosovo
province: The victims," in Robert Elsie, ed., Kosovo:
In the Heart of the Powder Keg (Boulder: East European Monographs,
1997), p. 259.
28. Julie A. Mertus, Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started
A War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp.
29. Human Rights Watch, "Macedonian Police Abuses Documented,"
press release, May 31, 2001 <http://hrw.org/press/2001/05/macedonia0530.htm>.
30. Deborah Willis, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-Hunting and
Maternal Power in Early Modern England (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1995), pp. 244-45.
31. Koonz quoted in Miryam Z. Wahrman, "Gendering the
Holocaust: Women as Victims and Perpetrators," Jewish.com,
32. Linda R. Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West
in Rwanda's Genocide (London: Zed Books, 2000), p. 73 (n.
33. Christopher C. Taylor, Sacrifice as Terror: The Rwandan
Genocide of 1994 (Oxford: Berg, 1999), pp. 153-54.
34. Mertus, Kosovo, p. 8.
35. On the plight of widows, see Margaret Owen, A World of
Widows (London: Zed Books, 1996).
36. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, p. 20.
37. Elenor Richter-Lyonette, "Women after the Genocide
in Rwanda," in Richter-Lyonette, ed., In the Aftermath
of Rape: Women's Rights, War Crimes, and Genocide (Givrins:
The Coordination of Women's Advocacy, 1997), p. 106.
38. William Drozdiak, "Poor Nations May Not Buy Trade
Talks," The Washington Post, May 15, 2001.
39. A step in the right direction was the February 2001 decision
by the European Union "to open its markets to all products
except weapons from the world's 48 poorest countries. Although
the EU initiative will delay duty-free access for such sensitive
items as bananas, rice and sugar, the move was welcomed as
a step toward improving the plight of the most indigent Third
World nations by the world's biggest and most powerful commercial
bloc." Drozdiak, "Poor Nations."
40. Jones, "Gendercide and Genocide," p. 201.
41. Alain Destexhe, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century
(New York: New York University Press, 1996).
42. Excerpts from Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's
Story, ch. 24: "The Murder of a Nation," <http://www.cilicia.com/morgenthau/Morgen24.htm>.
43. Christopher R. Browning, Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers,
German Killers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000),
44. Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion
101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperPerennial,
1998), pp. 13-14.
45. Human Rights Watch, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide
in Rwanda (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), p. 296.
46. This phrase is drawn from the (indispensable) African
Rights report, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance, chapter
47. Jones, "Gender and Genocide in Rwanda."
48. These themes are analyzed and buttressed in far greater
detail in Jones, "Gender and Genocide in Rwanda."
49. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, pp. 597-98.
50. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, p. 815.
51. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, p. 798.
52. African Rights, Death, Despair and Defiance, p. 39.
53. For what it is worth, I would consider all the cases cited
to qualify as genocides on a greater or lesser scale.
54. See Adam Jones/Gendercide Watch, "Case Study: Kashmir
/ Punjab / The Delhi Massacre (1984)," <http://www.gendercide.org/case_kashmir_punjab.html>.
55. See the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) -- Kosovo Verification Mission report, Kosovo/Kosova
As Seen, As Told, December 1999, especially ch. 15, "Young
Men of Fighting Age," <http://www.osce.org/kosovo/reports/hr/part1/ch15.htm>;
and Adam Jones, "Gendercide in Kosovo," <http://www.gendercide.org/gendercide_in_kosovo.html>.
56. For an evaluation of gendercidal strategies in East Timor
in 1999, compared and contrasted with previous Indonesian
invasion and occupation strategies, see Adam Jones/Gendercide
Watch, "Case Study: East Timor, 1975-1999," <http://www.gendercide.org/case_timor.html>.
57. See Adam Jones/Gendercide Watch, "Case Study: Colombia,"
58. See the Human Rights Watch report, "Massacres of
Hazaras in Afghanistan" (February 2001, <http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/afghanistan/>);
Kate Clark, "Taleban Accused of Mass Killing," BBC
Online, February 19, 2001 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_1178000/1178075.stm>;
Pamela Constable, "Many Witnesses Report Massacre by
Taliban," The Washington Post, February 19, 2001 <http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23349-2001Feb18.html>.
59. Human Rights Watch, "The 'Dirty War' in Chechnya:
Forced Disappearances, Torture, and Summary Executions,"
March 2001 <http://www.hrw.org/hrw/reports/2001/chechnya>.
60. Quoted in Maura Reynolds, "War Has No Rules for Russian
Forces Battling Chechen Rebels," The Los Angeles Times,
September 17, 2000. See also Geoffrey York, "Russia Detaining
All Chechen Men Between 10 and 60," The Globe and Mail,
January 13, 2000.
61. Leslie Wirpsa, "Economics Fuels Return of La Violencia,"
National Catholic Reporter, October 1997.
62. Celia W. Dugger, "36 Massacred in India, as Clinton
Begins Visit," The New York Times, March 21, 2000.
63. Joyce Pettigrew, "Parents and Their Children in Situations
of Terror: Disappearances and Special Police Activity in Punjab,"
in Jeffrey A. Sluka, ed., Death Squad: The Anthropology of
State Terror (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), p.
64. Daniel McGregory, "Mugabe's Ghost Squads Spread Terror
at Night," The Times (UK), March 12, 2001.
65. Barbara Crossette, "Rights Group Tells of Taliban
Massacres," The New York Times, February 19, 2001.
66. Mary Jordan, "Death of a Mexican Village," The
Washington Post, February 28, 2001.
67. "Ivorian Massacre: Justice Promised," BBC Online
(UK), October 28, 2000.
68. Mark Dodd, "Passabe Massacre: Marked for Killing
Frenzy," The Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 2000.
69. Karl Vickers, "Toll of Congo War is Called Apocalyptic,"
International Herald Tribune, May 2, 2001.
70. A somewhat similar pattern can be found in the selection-for-extermination
in the Nazi death camps, when women with children, and pregnant
women, were dispatched immediately to the gas chambers, while
able-bodied males were temporarily preserved for forced-labour
purposes (see the discussion in Jones, "Gendercide and
Genocide," pp. 204-05). All authorities agree, however,
that this was only a temporary exemption. Forced labour represented
merely another, somewhat longer route to extinction, as memorably
depicted by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in Hitler's Willing Executioners.
71. Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, The History and Sociology
of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1990), p. 223. The ease with which a few thousand Boer
farmers conquered the interior of South Africa in the 1840s
was directly related to the near-total depopulation of many
zones by the Zulu genocide.
72. All quotes in Jonassohn and Chalk, The History and Sociology
of Genocide, pp. 224-25, citing Eugene Victor Walter, Terror
and Resistance: A Study of Political Violence (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1969). Emphasis added.
73. The definitive reconstruction of the Srebrenica events
is David Rohde's Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica,
Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 1997). See also Jan Willem Honig and Norbert
Both, Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime (Harmondsworth: Penguin,
1996); Chuck Sudetic, Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story
of the War in Bosnia (New York: W.W. Norton, 1998, especially
parts 5 and 6); Yves Laplace, Considérations salutaires
sur le désastre de Srebrenica (Paris: Editions du Seuil,
1998); Eric Stover and Gilles Peress, The Graves: Srebrenica
and Vukovar (Zurich: Scalo, 1998).
74. Adam Jones, "Gender and Ethnic Conflict in ex-Yugoslavia,"
Ethnic and Racial Studies, 17: 1 (January 1994), p. 124.
75. In many cases this would involve confrontation with the
local authorities, e.g., those in the Bosnian government who
sought to prevent "battle-age" men from fleeing
as refugees and conscript them into military service.
76. In mid-July 1999, the international war-crimes tribunal
at The Hague issued a ruling that Bosnian Serb forces under
Ratko Mladic were operating under "a direct chain of
military command" from Belgrade. Accordingly, it redefined
the Bosnian war as "an international armed conflict."
See Ian Traynor, "Belgrade 'Directed Bosnian Serb Forces,'"
The Guardian, July 16, 1999.
77. Mark Danner, "The Killing Fields of Bosnia,"
New York Review of Books, September 24, 1998, citing a report
by Roy Gutman in Newsday, July 24, 1995.
78. Danner, "The Killing Fields of Bosnia," p. 63.
79. Sudetic, Blood and Vengeance, p. 306.
80. "Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to General
Assembly Resolution 53/35 (1998)" (the Srebrenica Report),
para. 348 <http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/reports/UNsrebrenicareport.htm>.
81. Sudetic, Blood and Vengeance, p. 323.
82. All quotes in the preceding passages are drawn from Danner,
"The Killing Fields of Bosnia," pp. 73-75. The reference
to the Dutch witnesses at Nova Kasaba is quoted from the Dutch
Report Based on the Debriefing of Srebrenica.
83. "Bodies From Srebrenica Massacre Go Unclaimed,"
The Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2001.
84. Rohde, Endgame, pp. 350, 353.
85. Breck Ardery, "U.N. Srebrenica Report," Voice
of America, November 15, 1999 <http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/docs99/991115-bosnia1.htm>.
86. For another example of a "missed opportunity"
for gender-sensitive intervention in genocide, see African
Rights' account of the massacre at St. Famille Church in Kigali,
Rwanda, in 1994. Refugees ostensibly under the protection
of UNAMIR (the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda)
were systematically harassed and decimated by interahamwe
raids on the church. Finally, in early June, the U.N. organised
an evacuation, but as a female refugee, Gorette Uwimana, reported,
the UNAMIR forces "put the names [of the refugees] in
alphabetical order and when they came to evacuate they did
so in this alphabetical order." This approach failed
to take into account the fact that "there were some refugees
who were more at risk than others, particularly Tutsi men
and boys who should have been evacuated first," something
that "was out of the question for UNAMIR." On 17
June, after the first evacuation convoy had left, "more
than one hundred Tutsis," nearly all male, were selected
out of the crowd and executed nearby. Thereafter, "almost
all the Tutsi men were finished." African Rights, Death,
Despair and Defiance, pp. 694, 701. Earlier, on 15 April,
"interahamwe accompanied by members of the Presidential
Guard entered the church. They selected a hundred and twenty
Tutsi men and boys, one by one, took them outside, and promptly
executed them by shooting them. They were clearly working
from a prepared list -- most of the victims were political
activists, businessmen, students and young men who 'looked
Tutsi.' Only one man is said to have survived this massacre"
(p. 689). "Sixty Tutsi men and boys" were also "snatched
from the neighbouring church of St. Paul's on 14 June"
87. See the collection of documents on this office at <http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/7/b/mwom.htm>.
88. See, e.g., Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists
Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics
(Cornell University Press, 1998); John Boli and George M.
Thomas, eds., Constructing World Culture: International Nongovernmental
Organizations since 1875 (Stanford University Press, 1999);
Jackie Smith, ed., Transnational Social Movements and Global
Politics: Solidarity beyond the State (Syracuse University
Press, 1997); Susan Burgerman, Moral Victories: How Activists
Provoke Multilateral Action (Cornell University Press, 2001);
Thomas G. Weiss and Leon Gordenker, eds., NGOs, the UN, &
Global Governance (Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 1996);
Andrew Hurrell and Benedict Kingsbury, The International Politics
of the Environment: Actors, Interests, and Institutions (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1992); Ethan A. Nadelmann, "Global Prohibition
Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International Society,"
International Organization, 44: 4 (Autumn 1990), pp. 479-526;
Kathryn Sikkink, "Human Rights, Principled Issue-Networks,
and Sovereignty in Latin America," International Organization
47, 3 (Summer 1993); Mary Kaldor, "Transnational Civil
Society," in Tim Dunne and Nicholas J. Wheeler, eds.,
Human Rights in Global Politics (Cambridge University Press,
1999), pp. 195-213; Richard Price, "Reversing the Gun
Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines,"
International Organization, 52: 3 (Summer 1998), pp. 613-44.
89. Felice Gaer, "Reality Check: Human Rights NGOs Confront
Governments at the UN," ch. 2 in Weiss and Gordenker,
NGOs, the UN, and Global Governance, p. 55.
90. For more on gender and the human-rights NGOs, focusing
on Amnesty International, see David Buchanan, "Gendercide
and Human Rights," forthcoming in Journal of Genocide
Research (4: 1, Spring 2002).
91. "Young Men of Fighting Age," ch. 15 in Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe--Kosovo Verification
Mission, Kosovo/Kosova As Seen, As Told, December 1999 <http://www.osce.org/kosovo/reports/hr/part1/ch15.htm>.
92. "Women," ch. 6 in OSCE, Kosovo/Kosova As Seen,
As Told <http://www.osce.org/kosovo/reports/hr/part1/ch16.htm>.
The chapter explicitly compares the experiences of women with
those of men: "The way women in which were targeted during
the conflict differed notably from the way in which men were
targeted. Much of the violence that women suffered seems to
have been directed towards their gender in a way that appears
also to have been intended to humiliate the whole of Kosovo
Albanian society. Instead of being arbitrarily killed, as
were many men, many women suffered rape and other forms of
sexual violence, since the perpetrators knew that this attached
extreme stigma in many women's eyes ... In some cases when
men and women were separated, the men were victims of extra-judicial
killing, torture and ill-treatment, while the women were taken
away and raped nearby. As young men were singled out from
the convoys, so were groups of young women. However, in such
cases, it was more common for women and children to be released
and sent on their way out of Kosovo, while the men were kept
back by Yugoslav/Serbian forces."
93. Paul Koring, "Ethnic Albanians recall their days
and nights of hiding in Kosovo," The Globe and Mail,
25 June 1999.
94. "Multiple Eyewitnesses Confirm Killings Around Velika
Krusa, Kosovo," Kosovo Human Rights Flash #4, April 2,
1999; "Massacre in Meja," Kosovo Human Rights Flash
#34, April 30, 1999; "Witness to Izbice Killings Speaks,"
Kosovo Human Rights Flash #39, May 19, 1999; "Separation
of Men and Mass Killing Near Vucitrn," Kosovo Human Rights
Flash #40, May 20, 1999; "Bodies Discovered at Massacre
Site in Meja, Kosovo," Kosovo Human Rights Flash #46,
June 18, 1999; "Large-Scale Massacre in Pusto Selo (Postoselo),"
Kosovo Human Rights Flash #51, July 2, 1999.
95. Human Rights Watch, "Violent Ethnic Cleansing in
Dakovica," Kosovo Human Rights Flash #16, April 3, 1999.
Though it also indulged in a fairly wide range of displacement
strategies, Human Rights Watch showed a regular willingness
to gender the victims of mass killing in the headlines. The
bulletin on the May 2-3 slaughter in a field outside Vucitrn
(Human Rights Flash #40) was entitled: "Separation of
Men and Mass Killing Near Vucitrn." Its account of the
"Massacre in Meja" on April 27 included the subheading:
"At Least One Hundred Men Believed Executed." This
was again atypical of commentary at the time, though not completely
96. "Ex-Detainees Recount Ill-Treatment in Smrekonica
Prison," Kosovo Human Rights Flash #41, May 26, 1999.
97. Human Rights Watch, "Ex-Detainees Recount Ill-Treatment
in Smrekonica Prison."
98. Human Rights Watch, Kosovo Human Rights Flash #31, April
99. Amnesty International, "Human Rights Violations against
Women in Kosovo Province," report, August 1998. Emphasis
100. "The Truth Behind the Killings of 45 Ethnic Albanians
in Kosovo Must Be Found," Amnesty International News
Release EUR 70/05/99, January 18, 1999. Emphasis added throughout.
101. Amnesty International, bulletin EUR 70/23/999, April
102. "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- Kosovo: The Plight
of Refugees Must Not Be Ignored," Amnesty International
bulletin, April 8, 1999. Emphasis added.
103. Amnesty International, "Killings in the Kacanik
area," EUR 70/29/99, April 9, 1999.
104. The news release noted, in passing, that "the police
separated the men from the women."
105. John Ward Anderson, "In Singular Move, Serbs Free
1,000 Ethnic Albanian Men in Kosovo," International Herald
Tribune, May 24, 1999 (from The Washington Post).
106. "Kosovo: Civilians rounded up and murdered by Serbian
forces, witnesses tell Amnesty International delegates,"
May 26, 1999.
107. All three of the wire-services I consulted -- Associated
Press, United Press International, and Agence France-Presse
-- ran stories on the Amnesty bulletin. See "Amnesty
calls for prisoner releases" (UPI); "Yugoslavia
Urged To Free Prisoners," (AP); "Amnesty calls for
release of prisoners of conscience [held] in Serbia"
(AFP) (all June 23, 1999).
108. Quoted in AFP, "Amnesty calls for release."
109. Various national offices of Amnesty did receive numerous
press releases and other communications from me during the
war, so I assume there was also an element of conscious rejection
of the framing, as well as obliviousness, in Amnesty's stance.
110. "Unheeded Warnings at Root of Kosovo Crisis -- Amnesty
International Writes to the UN Security Council," Amnesty
International bulletin, May 5, 1999.
111. "Kosovo: Playing Politics with Refugees in Macedonia,"
Amnesty International bulletin, May 19, 1999.
112. It is also the subject of a Gendercide Watch case-study
(notably, the one that has received the greatest amount of
traffic) at <http://www.gendercide.org/case_infanticide.html>.
113. Peter Adamson, article from the UNICEF Progress Report
in New Internationalist, January/February 1997.
114. Human Rights Watch, Slaughter Among Neighbors: The Political
Origins of Communal Violence (Yale University Press, 1995),
115. This section is adapted from the Gendercide Watch case-study
of "Maternal Mortality" at <http://www.gendercide.org/case_maternal.html>.
116. See the full text of the Convention at <http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/n0ilo29.htm>.
117. See the International Labour Organization, Forced Labour
in Myanmar (Burma), Report of the Commission of Inquiry, July
118. See my letter to ILO director-general Juan Somavia at