The Fetishization of Sexual Violence in International Security

Authored by: Sara Meger

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Peace Support Operations, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Access to Justice and Rule of Law, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Region: No Region
Year: 2016
Citation: Meger, Sara. "The Fetishization of Sexual Violence in International Security." International Studies Quarterly 60, no. 1 (March 2016): 149–159..

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Recent international relations scholarship tends to view sexual violence, especially rape, as an exceptional—if not aberrant—phenomenon in war and armed conflict. Indeed, it often treats it as the sole form of gender-based violence capable of threatening international peace and security. I challenge the isolation of this particular form of gender violence in the study and governance of international security. I argue that the securitization of sexual violence produced its “fetishization” in international advocacy, policy, and scholarship. The stages of securitization operate as a process of fetishization by first, decontextualizing and homogenizing this violence; second, objectifying this violence; and third, affecting inter-unit relations through the “selling back” of sexual violence to actors involved in conflict. As such, my argument helps specify why securitization fails to adequately address an issue like sexual violence and often results in further retrenchment of disparate power relations.