Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Against Men and Transitional Justice in Northern Uganda

  • Philipp Schulz

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation examines the intersections between conflict-related sexual violence against men and transitional justice processes in Northern Uganda. Although maledirected sexual violence during conflict is committed more frequently than assumed, the dynamics of these crimes and male survivors' experiences remain notoriously under-explored. The marginalization of male-directed sexual violence is particularly evident in relation to transitional justice. Drawing on new empirical data, derived from seven months of field research, this thesis thereby constitutes the first-ever systematic and empirically-driven examination of how male survivors of sexual violence in Northern Uganda conceptualize justice, thereby illuminating the seldomheard voices and experiences of male survivors. Further expanding the analysis, the dissertation also investigates how and to what extent prescribed transitional justice processes in Uganda address male sexual and gendered harms. This thesis unveils a vacuum of justice in response to sexual violence against men in Northern Uganda, reflective of gendered blindspots of transitional justice processes globally. Although Acholi male survivors advocate for acknowledgement, recognition and reparations, the masculine and heteronormative dimensions of formalized and standardized transitional justice processes leave male sexual and gendered harms particularly unaccounted for. Within the absence of official measures, male survivors in Acholiland attain a sense of justice on their own terms, through participation in survivors' groups. By addressing male survivors' sexual and gendered harms in different ways, groups create pathways through with male survivors can exercise agency and achieve justice on the micro-level. Recognizing a myriad of unofficial, non-institutionalized and everyday processes as contributing to justice implies the potential to circumvent the institutionalized gendered barriers of formalized justice measures. In light of these findings, transitional justice must be emancipated from its focus on institutionalism and lifted out of its liberal rights-based approach to deliver gender-inclusive and harmresponsive justice through a masculinities lens and in response to male-directed sexual violence.
Date of AwardDec 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLouise Mallinder (Supervisor), Brandon Hamber (Supervisor) & Fionnuala Ni Aolain (Supervisor)


  • gender
  • transitional justice
  • Uganda
  • sexual violence
  • masculinities

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