The Syrian Conflict and Changing Nature of Sexual Violence in Conflict; Challenges for the Integration of Refugees
My thesis will focus on the use of coercive and controlling behaviour in the Syrian conflict as a weapon of war to generate a fear of sexual violence so powerful that is as impactful as the physical act. It will examine how fear (an emotion) is considered in IR, including a critical review of feminist literature, and consideration of why it has or has not been included in research on conflict. It will also examine existing protocols and human rights law to argue the extent to which this form of violence is recognised in the instruments put in place to protect human rights in conflict, and the definitional stretching of the term ‘coercive control’, which currently apples to intimate partner violence.
The research will focus on the Syrian conflict from the beginning of the uprising in 2011 until 2016 when the UK government announced its commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. Data collection will establish the extent to which fear has been used as a weapon of war by all sides in the conflict through interviews with NGOs, facilitated discussion with Syrian refugees, observations and examination of art and literatures. I will also do a comparative study of other conflicts in Sierra Leone and Bosnia where sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war, and contrast this with the Syrian experience. I will examine the scope of the use of the international instruments to seek justice for those who have experienced this form of violence, which in UK legislation is a domestic criminal offence.
To conclude I will consider what the findings of my research mean for the UK policymakers developing approaches to support and integrate Syrian families in the UK. This will explore the concept of the victim of coercive control in the conflict or domestic setting, whether there is difference on how the victims are perceived (or perceive themselves) and what then may be needed to successfully integrate Syrian families into UK society on the basis of their experience. This will inform the development of a needs focussed, place based approach to resettling refugees.
Links of Interest
Co-Convenor of the Interdisciplinary Gender Research Studies Group
English and International Politics, BSc, Aberystwyth, 1998
International Relations MSc, Bristol University, 1999
General Research Interests
- Interested in Gender Equality, Gender Based violence, Gender in IR, Refugees, Immigration
Publications and Conference Papers
‘Coercive Control in Conflict’ for ‘Bringing Conflict Home’ Conference – York University June 2017
- Funded by the Home Office (UK Govt Dept)
- I work full time as a Senior Civil Servant for the Home Office – Policy and Operational Delivery Professional