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Post-War Women: Reflections on Survivorship and Reconciliation

Laura Hengehold


How can nations emerging from armed conflict ensure that the futures of women who have survived sexual violence are firmly integrated into their collective future? Recontextualizing or reconstructing women’s experiences of sexual violence as “war wounds” similar to those of demobilized male combatants may be one way to assure that survivors of both genders are to eventually feel that the state supports the collective dimension of their own embodiment. In this essay, ideas from the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the Zimbabwean philosopher Mogobe Ramose help explain why sexual violence wounds the collective as well as the individual aspects of human embodiment. Historically, Western societies have used the nation-state as a prosthetic to distinguish male vulnerabilities and support them at the expense of vulnerabilities attributed to women and often imposed upon them, but this need not be the case in the African societies emerging from contemporary conflict.


Sexual violence; civil wars; phenomenology; reconciliation

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Journal on African Philosophy. ISSN: 1533-1067 (online).
Editor: Olufemi Taiwo.

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