Defying the victim-perpetrator binary: female ex-combatants in Colombia and Guatemala as complex political perpetrators

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Abstract

Victimhood has become central to the field of transitional justice, leading to rather simplified ideas about and rigid distinctions between victims and perpetrators. Female ex-combatants tend to be regarded in stereotypical ways, either as victims of forced recruitment or as deviant monsters. In reality, their experiences are often more complex, and can consist not only of having participated in but also having suffered violence, both direct and structural. Membership of armed groups can produce emancipatory experiences and instances of agency as well. This article uses the multi-layered experiences of female ex-combatants in Colombia and Guatemala to argue for the application of a complex political perpetrator lens to address female ex-combatants in transitional justice mechanisms. It shows how the inclusion of more complex gendered understandings of perpetrators’ experiences can promote reconciliation and foster dialogue about the connections between structural and direct gendered violence, to achieve more gender-transformative transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264–283
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Volume15
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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