Intimate Violence and Sexual Violence in Chinese Societies with Jia Xue

October 12, 2017

In this seminar, Jia Xue discusses the current state of domestic violence law in China. In particular, she focuses on how this social issue transfers into a policy agenda. Jia draws on findings from her current project, which examines the use of social media in the context of intimate partner violence in China. Additionally, she introduces another project investigating the impact of intimate partner violence on mental health through the examination of Weibo messages (Chinese version of Twitter).


Jia Xue, Ph.D. Candidate in Social Welfare, University of Pennsylvania. Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights


Protection from Gender Violence as a Civil Right with Kristin Bumiller

September 15, 2016

In this seminar, the recent efforts by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to enforce Title IX policy are considered in the broader context of unsuccessful attempts to establish protection of sexual violence as a civil right in the United States. OCR enforcement has stimulated both praise for its bold determination to address an epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses and criticism for its capacious exercise of administrative power. Bumiller reframes this debate by considering how these regulatory measures are a new chapter in a varied and complex story about the effectiveness of public enforcement of civil rights statutes through the combination of administrative and judicial action. Her work questions whether over reliance on public agency enforcement potentially weakens the participatory and democratic effects of private action. She also examines how current federal regulations regarding Title IX continue a pattern that over emphasizes criminal justice priorities.

Speaker: Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor in Economic and Social Institutions; Chair of Political Science, Amherst College


Rape During Civil War with Dara Kay Cohen

September 8, 2016

Rape is common during wartime, but even within the context of the same war, some armed groups perpetrate rape on a massive scale while others never do. In this seminar, Dara Kay Cohen discusses her new book, Rape during Civil War, and examines variation in the severity and perpetrators of rape using an original dataset of reported rape during all major civil wars from 1980 to 2012. Cohen also conducted extensive fieldwork, including interviews with perpetrators of wartime rape, in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador. Combining evidence from these interviews with statistical analysis of the quantitative data, Cohen argues that armed groups that recruit their fighters through the random abduction of strangers use rape—and especially gang rape—to create bonds of loyalty and trust between soldiers. Results from the book lay the groundwork for the systematic analysis of an understudied form of civilian abuse, and will be useful to policymakers seeking to understand and to mitigate the horrors of wartime rape.

Speaker Dara Kay Cohen, WAPPP Faculty Affiliate; Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School


Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity with Jeni Klugman

February 13, 2015

The constraints facing women and girls worldwide range from epidemic levels of gender-based violence to biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their own lives. The World Bank’s new book, “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity,” documents major gender gaps and reviews promising policies and interventions. Underlining that women's agency–their ability to make decisions and act on them independently–has concrete as well as intrinsic value, WAPPP Fellow Jeni Klugman highlights new interventions from around the world that are used to empower women and girls, in conjunction with United Nations post-2015 global development agenda.


Rebel Queens and Black Diamonds: Gender Politics in African Armed Groups with Zoe Marks

October 9, 2014

While there has been an impressive groundswell of attention to sexual and gender-based violence in conflict research and in international advocacy, there has been little systematic analysis of how organizational power structures and local contexts inform the nature and dynamics of such violence. WAPPP Fellow, Zoe Marks, examines the intersecting dynamics of power and gender in armed groups in Africa by using her extensive research conducted on the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. Her study analyzes how context and power affect the dynamics of sexual and gender-based violence by looking at when and how women obtain power in armed groups and what their power tells us about the politics of violence. Speaker: Zoe Marks, WAPPP Fellow, 2014; Chancellor's Fellow, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh


Explaining Rape During Civil War with Dara Kay Cohen

August 21, 2014

Why do some armed groups commit massive wartime rape, while others never do? Using an original dataset, I describe the substantial variation in rape by armed actors during recent civil wars and test a series of competing causal explanations. I find evidence that the recruitment mechanism is associated with the occurrence of wartime rape.
Specifically, the findings support an argument about wartime rape as a method of socialization, in which armed groups that recruit by force— through abduction or pressganging—use rape to create unit cohesion. I examine observable implications of the argument, based on months of fieldwork, in case studies of the conflicts in Sierra Leone, El Salvador and Timor-Leste, and consider some of the longterm consequences of conflict-related mass rape. Speaker: Dara Kay Cohen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School