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Sexual violence, identity and gender: ISIS and the Yezidis

Kaya, Zeynep (2021) Sexual violence, identity and gender: ISIS and the Yezidis. Conflict, Security and Development, 20 (5). 631 - 652. ISSN 1467-8802

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14678802.2020.1820163


This paper explores the gender dimension of the relationship between the political marketplace and identity formation. Gender is a central, not tangential, component of violence and gender norms are an essential part of singular and exclusive identity formation. The article focuses on ISIS’s sexual and gender-based violence against the Yezidis and contextualises this case within wider long-term gender- and identity-based structural inequalities that facilitate sexual violence in conflict. Structural inequalities are understood here within a continuum of violence and through an intersectional study of sexual violence in conflict. In the case of ISIS and the Yezidis, specific ethnic or religious constructions of identity intersected with gender, leading to targeting of a minority community. This identity formation is part of becoming a militarised masculine warrior within a group – ISIS used sexual violence in forming its group identity against a subordinated outgroup. In doing this, ISIS objectified and commodified the bodies of the Yezidi women and created an economic market around this. Objectification and commodification of Yezidi women reinforced ISIS’s hegemonic and militant masculinity. The construction of identity through sexual violence took place in a socio-economic and political context situated within a long-term history of the intersection of gender and identity-based hierarchies. This was possible because of the existing repertoires of values, perceptions and practices of hegemonic and militant masculinity. The organisation and institutionalisation of sexual violence and objectification and commodification of Yezidi women and girls was based on this repertoire which was based on intersectional hierarchies of gender and religious-ethnic-sectarian identities.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2020 King’s College London
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2022 10:03
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 17:07

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