Women, Violence, and Nonviolent Resistance in East Timor

Authored by: Christine Mason

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Nonviolent Resistance, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Timor Leste
Region: East Asia and the Pacific
Year: 2005
Citation: Mason, Christine. "Women, Violence, and Nonviolent Resistance in East Timor." Journal of Peace Research 42, no. 6 (2005): 737-749.

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A growing literature in peace and conflict studies assesses the relationship between women and nonviolence. Numerous national liberation fronts and academic critiques assess how women participate in nonviolent resistance from Tibet and West Papua to Palestine and Eritrea. However, many liberation struggles that include female nonviolent resistance remain undocumented, and this article aims to delve into one case study in particular. The article examines the nonviolent roles adopted by women in the East Timorese liberation struggle, a national liberation movement in which the participation of female combatants was low but nonviolent participation by women in the resistance movement overall was high. However, the consequences for such women was, and remains, shaped by the overarching patriarchal structures of both the Indonesian occupiers and East Timorese society itself. Female nonviolent resistance was met with highly violent responses from Indonesian troops, especially in the form of rape and sexual exploitation. Yet, this study also found that women acting under religious auspices faced less violent responses overall. Interviews with East Timorese women are used to reveal some of the sexual dynamics of nonviolent action and reprisal. This material is placed in the context of theoretical work on gender, violence and nonviolence.