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Posthumous Rescue

The Shafia Young Women as Worthy Victims

Yasmin Jiwani

This article focuses on the coverage of the murders of the young Shafia women. Based on an analysis of the coverage published in The Globe and Mail (July 2009 to March 2012), I argue that the young women were constructed as exceptional and worthy victims of a particularly heinous crime—honor killing—allegedly imported from Afghanistan by the Shafia patriarch. I interrogate the different threads that were interwoven to construct these young women's representations to make them intelligible as girls and young women. Within the coverage, the trope of culture clash anchored in an Orientalist framing worked to consolidate their representations as worthy victims and re-inscribe the national imaginary of Canadian society as egalitarian, tolerant and beyond gender violence. These different maneuvers served to accomplish a kind of posthumous rescue in a domestic context akin to the strategies of rescue implemented by Western powers in the War on Terror to save Afghan women.

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“Moi quand on dit qu’une femme ment, eh bien, elle ment”

The Administration of Rape in Twenty-First Century France and England & Wales

Nicole Fayard and Yvette Rocheron

In France and England & Wales rape is now understood as a diverse social phenomenon. It is reported, counted, categorized, and dealt with by the authorities as a serious crime. Yet, despite notable initiatives intended to improve the conviction of alleged perpetrators, major hurdles for alleged victims remain. We show how rape is defined and prosecuted in France and England & Wales, and we use statistical analyzes to understand the scale of the problem, still largely unknown. We also discuss recent controversies (attrition rate;loicadre), exploring a culture of scepticism among police and judiciary that causes complaints to be dropped or downgraded to lesser crimes. Our interview material from France explores two difficulties: When is rape not rape? Did the alleged victim consent to the penetration? Finally we analyze the paradoxical role played by voluntary victim support groups that resist but also collude with a complex regulatory system that fails those who do not speak in legitimate codes.

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Consoling police victims with symbolic politics?

The Movimiento del Dolor and the Argentinean state

Marieke Denissen

In recent years police violence and impunity have become important items on the societal and political agenda in Argentina. The family members of police victims, coming together in the Movimiento del Dolor, take up a prominent place in holding the government accountable by means of repeated demonstrations, the creation of civil society organizations, and participation in public debate. In response, the Kirchner administration started a ‘politics of rapprochement’ in an attempt to establish alliances with family members of victims. The clearest expression of this politics is the creation of the PNAI, the national program against impunity, an initiative in which family members of victims participate actively. Consequences for the relations between the latter and the state and among family members of victims themselves will be examined. The ‘politics of rapprochement’ is an attempt to co-opt the Movimiento del Dolor, but at the same time includes elements of cooperation. It is a government initiative to show it is on the side of the victims but at the same time is criticized by part of the victims for being just symbolic politics that ignores the necessary large-scale transformations that the police and the judiciary have to undergo in order to stop the impunity in Argentina.

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The Concept of the Victim in Midrashic Literature

In Memory of Sheila Shulman, Who Loved Midrash

Joanna Weinberg

The creative authors of the Midrashim treated the topic of ‘the persecuted’ or ‘the victim’ in a constellation of fascinating homilies on the lectionary portion for Passover. This short article will examine how the theme of persecution is elaborated in various midrashic texts, and point to similarities between rabbinic exegesis and Jewish Hellenistic and Christian Syriac discussions of the same theme.

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Human Rights, Victimhood, and Impunity

An Anthropology of Democracy in Argentina

Michael Humphrey and Estela Valverde

This article explores human rights politics in the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Argentina. Its ethnographic focus is the phenomenon of families of victims associations, usually led by mothers, that first emerged to protest against mass disappearance under the military dictatorship. Democracy has also produced new families of victims associations protesting against different forms of state abuse and/or neglect. They represent one face of the widespread protest against a 'culture of impunity' experienced as ongoing insecurity and injustice. Private grief is made an emotional resource for collective action in the form of 'political mourning'. The media, street demonstrations, and litigation are used to try to make the state accountable. State management of this public suffering has sought to determine legitimate victimhood based on a paradigm of innocence. The political mourning of victims and survivors charts the social margins of citizenship in the reduced, not expanded, neo-liberal democratic state in Argentina.

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Perpetrators and victims

Local responses to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Johanna Mannergren Selimovic

This article juxtaposes local understandings and narratives on justice and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina with those of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). By looking at notions of collective innocence/guilt, the development of victim identities, and the relativization of the suffering of the other, it explores the failure of the ICTY to offer a convincing model of transitional justice in Bosnia. Although the ICTY disciplines the boundary between victim and perpetrator through measures for shared truth and individual justice, local discourses resist or transform these representations, thus tending to entrench rather than transcend national divisions. The findings of this article challenge prevalent instrumentalist understandings of transitional justice and its role in facilitating reconciliation. The article focuses on the communities of Konjic and Srebrenica and the ICTY outreach conferences held in these towns in 2004 and 2005.

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Who Is a Victim of Communism?

Gender and Public Memory in the Sighet Museum, Romania

Alina Haliliuc

The Memorial Museum of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is the main museum of communism in Romania. This article a ends to this museum's politics of representing gender and argues that its exhibits reify resistance to and victimization by the communist regime as masculine. The museum marginalizes women, in general, and renders unmemorable women's lives under Nicolae Ceauşescu's pronatalist regime, in particular. The absence is significant because Romania is the only country in the former communist bloc where women experienced unique forms of systematic political victimization under Ceauşescu's nationalist-socialist politics of forced birth. This article illustrates how the museum's investment in an anti-communist discourse creates a gendered representation of political action under the communist regime.

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Kevin Hopkins and Christopher Roederer

In trying to come to grips with what is involved in righting the wrongs of apartheid, we begin by pointing out unique challenges posed by societies in transition. It is our position that the pursuit of justice is not the same in transitional contexts as it is in stable democracies. As we shall see, the transitional domain throws up several non-standard obstacles in the way of fulfilling the imperatives of justice. After this introduction to justice in transitions we will look more closely at the relationship between justice and law in the context of political transformation generally, and the specific relationship between justice and international human rights law in this transformative process. Thereafter we will address the pursuit of justice in respect of both apartheid’s perpetrators as well as its victims—the discussion will, however, be limited to the liability of those who fall outside the scope of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) mandate. In that regard, we will deal with violations of rights not specifically covered by the TRC: odious apartheid debt owed to international legal entities; other debt incurred by the apartheid state to private money-lending institutions; the violation of international labour standards in the apartheid state; and the unjust enrichment of foreign corporations at the expense of black South Africans.

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Ruth Klüger

Reflections on Auschwitz

Birgit Maier-Katkin

Austrian-born Ruth Klüger was a teenager when she and her mother were deported first to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz, and later to Christianstadt. This article examines Klüger's memoir weiter leben in which she records her memories and assessments of her experience in these concentration camps. It considers her critical stance toward the postwar Holocaust memory culture and focuses on Klüger's relationship with German thought and language. In particular, during her imprisonment in Auschwitz, German poetry played an important role in her survival. This offers new insight into Theodor Adorno's statement (which he later retracted) that “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.“ As questions about German identity are raised, this article suggests a discourse about the Holocaust from within German culture and points to questions about the intricate relationship of a shared cultural background between victim and perpetrator.

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Events and Effects

Intensive Transnationalism among Pakistanis in Denmark

Mikkel Rytter

Analyzing the period of 'intensive transnationalism' among Pakistani migrants in Denmark precipitated by the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, this article explores the relationship between events and effects on a global scale. One significant initiative after the disaster was the founding of an ad hoc association, Medical Doctors in Assistance to the Earthquake Victims in Pakistan, which consisted mainly of medical workers with a Pakistani background. The article discusses the wax and wane of this association and its impact in three interconnected contexts: family objectives, community dynamics, and national identity politics in Denmark. Despite the medical doctors' efforts and intentions, the outcome was framed by 9/11, which has become the major critical event of the decade—one that has supported a developing cleavage between the Danish majority and Denmark's Muslim immigrant minority.