Fairfield University professor confronts "greatest silence in history" in her latest book, "Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict"



Image: Jamie LeathermanDr. Janie Leatherman, professor of politics and director of international studies at Fairfield University, will speak on "Breaking Taboo: Stopping Sexual Violence in War," on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Her talk is based on her new book, "Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict," (2011, Polity Press, Cambridge) which confronts what has been called the "greatest silence in history," the sexual violence in contemporary armed conflict.

Serving as host for the evening will be Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, associate professor of politics, who will join Leatherman in a discussion of the issues raised by the book. This event is part of the university's teaching of global citizenship via curriculum and events. Admission is complimentary and the public is welcome. Please call the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010 to reserve tickets.

Although "the long standing taboo against speaking out against sexual violence in armed conflict has been broken," Leatherman says, "sexual violence in wars of plunder and profit remains a pervasive reality around the globe today." It represents, she says, "human degradation at an incomprehensible extreme."

In her book, Leatherman looks at the causes of sexual violence in armed conflict while analyzing the role played by factors such as patriarchy and militarized masculinity. She presents difficult questions of accountability, in particular, the case of child soldiers, who often suffer a double victimization when forced to commit sexual atrocities.

Still, she sees some hope in new and courageous steps that are being taken at both the local and international level. "There are many strategies for creating safe space during and after war. International humanitarian interventions and the work of local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) need to be supported to work toward these goals. Opening up safe spaces is a key factor in the long-term viability of peace building."

More information on the book is available at sexualviolenceandarmedconflict.net.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in reviewing "Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict," praised it as "a useful first step for understanding the complex dynamics that lead to rape and sexual abuse in war." Valentine Moghadam from Purdue University said, "This is international relations at is best," while Carolyn Nordstrom from the University of Notre Dame praised Leatherman's "innovative insights" and called the book "courageous, groundbreaking, riveting, essential."

Leatherman's training and consultancy in conflict resolution include the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, the United Nations University, Catholic Relief Services, Search for Common Ground, the Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations (New York). She has been awarded grants from national and international funding sources, including the Department of Education, United States Institute of Peace, the Social Science Research Council, Pew Foundation, Swedish Government, and also the Fulbright-Hayes and American Scandinavian dissertation fellowships.

Her other books include, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Politics: Illusions of Control," ed. Janie Leatherman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); "Charting Transnational Democracy: Beyond Global Arrogance," ed. Janie Leatherman and Julie Webber (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); and "From Cold War to Democratic Peace: Third Parties, Peaceful Change and the OSCE" (Syracuse University Press, 2003). Her research covers conflict, gender and violence, sex trafficking, foreign policy and transnational politics.

Before joining the faculty at Fairfield, her appointments included Illinois State University and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a Ph.D. is from the University of Denver, Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 13, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 36