Surviving sexual gender based violence. A study of social identities, war narratives and resilience. Case study: Kosova

Shala, A., 2022. Surviving sexual gender based violence. A study of social identities, war narratives and resilience. Case study: Kosova. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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War rape is a sexual gender based violence (SGBV), which is systematically used in war. SGBV is perceived as identity-violating, leading to stigmatisation and exclusion of survivors from their families and communities (Kellezi & Reicher, 2014; Schmitt et al., 2020). For example, in the Kosova war in 1998/1999 an estimated 20,000 persons experienced SGBV (Amnesty International, 1993; Human Rights Watch, 2000; Shanks & Schull, 2000; Swiss & Giller 1993). However, very few survivors have spoken publicly and less than 2000 have received professional support. In this context of stigmatisation and silence, it is important to understand what long-term strategies can help survivors overcome the impact of their experiences. Reflective on the collective nature of the SGBV, this thesis uses the Social Identity Approach (SIA; Tajfel & Turner, 1986) as applied to Health and Wellbeing (Jetten et al., 2012) to understand the impact of and responses to SGBV.

Study 1, interviews survivors of SGBV to identify what long-term strategies they used to cope with the trauma and the stigma in the aftermath of the war. Results show that twenty years after the war, war rape survivors were still confronted with negative consequences of war rape trauma and revictimized as a result of stigma attached to it in almost every aspect of their life. However, survivors were also actively engaging in overcoming the collective processes leading to harm (i.e., Social Curse) and using the collective nature of their context to draw on positive group based strategies of coping and appraisal (i.e., Social Cure).

Study 2 analysed interviews with professionals and strategies they used to negotiate support for SGBV survivors in a stigmatized social and political environment. The most successful strategies are those that account for the impact of stigma and the need to protect the anonymity of SGBV. The study findings also suggest that long-term strategies to combat stigma, while resulting in positive change (e.g., new law to recognize war rape survivors), have limited their agency and discursively reproduced exclusion in the process. Both study 1 and 2 point to the important of systemic and systematic change such as the law amendment.

In study 3 of this thesis, political discourses on formal and legal recognition of war rape experiences are analysed. Study 3 argues that subordination of women within the construct of nation building is discursively reproduced by both those who support and object the legal recognition of war rape survivors.

The three studies combined provide a multi-perspective qualitative analysis on the long-term impact and strategies used to address stigma. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings have been discussed.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Shala, A.
Date: September 2022
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 10 Aug 2023 14:49
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2023 14:49

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