The gendering of victimhood: Western media and the Sinjar genocide
This article adopts a gender perspective on war, problematising media attention on Yezidi women since the attacks by ISIS. Sinjari Yezidis’ narratives/subjectivities since 2014 are silenced in Western media reports in favour of a “hyper-visibility” of women’s “injured bodies”, which mobilises a specific narrative of victimhood. Reports from UK and US broadsheet newspapers, plus the BBC, CNN and online publications are analysed, plus new data gathered through fieldwork among Yezidis in Northern Iraq. Western media draw on and reproduce cultural and gender representations, reinstating relations of power infused with orientalist and patriarchal tropes. The focus on women’s bodies moves attention away from the workings of namûs “honour” and the suffering of Yezidi men. Some Yezidi women who became activists, speaking as victims, are heard internationally; the compromises this entails are discussed in light of Fassin and Rechtman’s work on the politics of victimhood.
Keywords: Gender; Yezidi; hyper-visibility; media; conflict.
Abstract in Kurmanji
Cinsiyeta civakî ya qurbanîbûnê: Medyaya rojava û jenosîda Şingalê
Ev gotar ji perspektîva cinsiyeta civakî re li diyardeya şer dinêre, û bal û rûmalkirina medyayê derheq jinên êzdî de ya ji dema êrîşên DAIŞê ve bi awayekî rexneyî dinirxîne. Ji dema êrîşên 2014an ve şahidî û tecrubeyên şexsî yên êzdiyên Şingalê di raportên medyaya rojavayî de têne bêdengkirin û li şûna wan “bedenên brîndar” ên jinan bi dereceyeke zêde têne dîtin, ku ev yek rê li ber duristbûna hikayêteke qurbanbûnê vedike. Raportên rojnameyên serekî yên Brîtanya û DYA’yê ligel weşanên înternetî yên BBC û CNNê û daneyên ji meydanê di nav êzdiyên li bakurê Îraqê hatî berhevkirin hatine tehlîlkirin. Medyaya rojavayî hem îstifadeyê ji temsîlên çandî û cinsiyetî dike hem jî wan ji nû ve ava dike, ku bi vê yekê re têkiliyên hêzê yên bi hêmayên oryantalîst û babsalar şikl girtî ji nû ve binecih dike. Zîqbûna li ser bedenê jinan balê ji ser babeta “namûsê” û ji êşên mêrên êzdî dide alî. Hindek jinên êzdî yên bûyî çalakvan, ku wek qurban dengê xwe bilind dikin, di qada navneteweyî de têne bihîstin. Rengvedanên menfî yên van kiryaran, li vir, di çarçoveya lêkolînên Fassin û Rechtman yên li ser polîtîkiya qurbaniyê de hatine munaqeşekirin.
Abstract in Sorani
Abu-Lughod, L. (2002). Do Muslim Women Need Saving? American Anthropologist 104 (3), 783-790.
——— (2013). Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Allison, F.C. (2001). The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan. London: Curzon.
Aras, R. (2014). The Formation of Kurdishness in Turkey: Political Violence, Fear and Pain. London and New York: Routledge.
Associated Press, (2016, 17 August). Yazidi man tells of family wiped out by Islamic State 'massacre' in Kocho [Video]. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from :
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11039575/Yazidi-man-tells-of-family-wiped-out-by-Islamic-State-massacre-in-Kocho.html (last accessed 26 May 2016).
Badger, G. P. (1852). The Nestorians and their Rituals. 2 vols, London: J Masters.
Baudrillard, J., tr. Chris Turner (2005). The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact. Oxford: Berg Publisher.
Baudrillard, J. (1990). Seduction. London: Macmillan.
Baudrillard, J. (1982). La Scene et l’Obscéne. Paris: Art Press
BBC HARDtalk. (2016, February 29). Nadia Murad interviewed by Sarah Montague [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seax37UoECg (last accessed 15 May 2016).
BBC World Service online. (2014, 22 December). Yazidi women sex slave ordeal in Newshour, 2014. [Radio]. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02f756t (last accessed 15 April 2016).
Callimachi, R. (2015, 13 August). ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html?_r=0 (last accessed 15 April 2016).
Chulov, M. (2014, 11 August). Yazidis tormented by fears for women and girls kidnapped by Isis jihadis’. The Guardian. Retrieved from:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/yazidis-tormented-fears-for-women-girls-kidnapped-sinjar-isis-slaves (last accessed 16 April 2016).
Cockburn, C. (2007). From Where We Stand: War, Women’s Activism, and Feminist Analysis. London: Zed.
Cooke, M. (2002). Saving Brown Women. Signs, 28 (1), 468-470.
Das, V. (2007). Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Dulz, I., Savelsberg, E., and Hajo, S. (2008). ‘Persecuted And Co-Opted - The Yezidis In The “New” Iraq’, Journal of Kurdish Studies VI, 24-43.
Enloe, C. (2000). Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
——— (2007). Globalization and Militarism: Feminists Make the Link. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Fassin, D., & Rechtman, R., tr. Gomme, R. (2009) The empire of trauma: An inquiry into the condition of victimhood. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Fischer-Tahir, A. (2012) ‘The Concept of Genocide as Part of Knowledge Production in Iraqi Kurdistan,’ In J. Tejel, P. Sluglett, R. Bocco, H. Bozarslan, (Eds.). (2012). Writing the Modern History of Iraq: Historiographical and Political Challenges, (227-244). New Jersey and London: World Scientific Publishing.
Foucault, M. (1980). ‘The Confession of the Flesh’ a conversation. Translated from the French by Colin Gordon. In: C. Gordon (Eds.). (1980). Power/Knowledge Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, (194–228). London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Giles W. and Hyndman J., (Ed.). (2004). Sites of Violence: Gender and Conflict Zones. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gol, J. (2016). The Kurdish and Yazidi women taking up arms against IS [video]. The BBC News. Retrieved from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33997748 minute (3:00) (Accessed 20 April 2016)
Graham-Harrison, E. (2015, 26 December). 'You will stay here until you die': one woman's rescue from Isis. The Guardian. Retrieved from:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/26/arezu-yazidi-woman-rescued-isis-neighbours-raqqa, (last accessed 8 March 2016).
‘Islamic State’ (2014) ‘The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour.’ Dabiq 4, 14-17. Retrieved from:
http://media.clarionproject.org/files/islamic-state/islamic-state-isis-magazine-Issue-4-the-failed-crusade.pdf (Last accessed 8 July 2016).
Jalabi, R. (2014, 11 August). Who are the Yazidis and why is Isis hunting them?. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/07/who-yazidi-isis-iraq-religion-ethnicity-mountains, (last accessed 8 March 2016).
Joshi, P. (2014, 8 August). Iraq Crisis: Hundreds of Yazidi Women Held as Slaves by Islamic State Militants. International Business Times. Retrieved from:
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/iraq-crisis-hundreds-yazidi-women-held-captive-by-islamic-state-militants-1460420, (last accessed 19 May 2016).
Koselleck, R., tr. T.S. Presner et al. (2002) The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Krohn, J. and Tarling, S., (2014, 12 August). Mount Sinjar dispatch: Yazidi refugees ‘living like animals’. The Daily Telegraph.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11027585/Mount-Sinjar-dispatch-Yazidi-refugees-living-like-animals.html (last accessed 19 May 2016).
Layard, A. H. (1849) Nineveh and its Remains. 2 vols. London: John Murray.
——— (1853) Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. London: John Murray.
Lemkin, R. (1946). Genocide. American Scholar, 15 (2), 227-230.
Mlodoch, K. (2012). Fragmented memory, competing narratives. In J. Tejel, P. Sluglett, R. Bocco, H. Bozarslan, (Eds.). (2012). Writing the Modern History of Iraq: Historiographical and Political Challenges, (205-222). New Jersey and London: World Scientific Publishing.
Murad Basee, N. Personal Website. http://www.nadia-murad.com. Last accessed 14 June 2014.
Rovera, D. (2014, December) Rovera, Escape From Hell: torture and sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq. Amnesty International.
Sands, P. (2016, 15 April). On genocide and trauma. Financial Times. Retrieved from https://next.ft.com/content/2ce55dee-01c7-11e6-ac98-3c15a1aa2e62 (last accessed 30 April 2016).
Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N. (2009). Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shelton, T. (2014, 12 August). ‘ISIS militants seize 63 of this Iraq’s family members in Sinjar,’ GlobalPost. Retrieved from: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/iraq-turmoil/isis-militants-seize-63-iraqis-family-members-sinjar-n178371, (last accessed 19 May 2016).
Soane, E.B. (1912). To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise. London: John Murray.
Spivak, G.C. (1994). Can the Subaltern Speak? In P. Williams and L. Chrisman (Eds.). (1994) Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory: A reader, (66-111). New York: Columbia.
Sykes, M. (1915) The Caliphs’ Last Heritage. London: Macmillan.
The Week (2014, 7 October). YPG: the Kurdish Feminists fighting Islamic State. The Week. Retrieved from: http://www.theweek.co.uk/middle-east/islamic-state/60758/ypj-the-kurdish-feminists-fighting-islamic-state, (last accessed 23 May 2016).
Thomas, S. (2014, 7 August) Death of a Religion: ISIS and the Yezidi. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from:
http://mtv.com.lb/news/english_cuts/371354/death_of_a_religion_isis_and_the_yezidi (last accessed 19 May 2016).
United Nations News Service, (2014, 14 August). Amid spread of ‘hatred and brutality,’ Ban urges countries to do more to help Iraqi civilians. UN website. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48469#.Vz2ZDWPSdR0, (last accessed 19 May 2016).
Van den Toorn, C. (2014, 17 August) How the U.S.-favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked. Retrieved from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/17/how-the-u-s-favored-kurds-abandoned-the-yazidis-when-isis-attacked.html (last accessed 19 May 2016).
Watson, I. (2014, updated 30 October) Treated like cattle': Yazidi women sold, raped, enslaved by ISIS. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/30/world/meast/isis-female-slaves (last accessed 23 May 2016).
Watts, N. (2012). The role of symbolic capital in protest: state-society relations and the destruction of the Halabja monument in northern Iraq. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 32 (1), 70-85.
Whyte L. (2016, 26 January). ‘The World Forgot Us’: Inside the scheme to rehabilitate Yazidi sex slaves who have escaped Isis. New Statesman. Retrieved from:
http://www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2016/01/world-forgot-us-inside-scheme-rehabilitate-yazidi-sex-slaves-who-have, (last accessed 6 July 2016).
Yazda.org (2014, 25 August). Airstrikes will NOT free the hostages; Yazidis plead to the free world to conduct Special Military Operations for Freedom. Yazda.org website. Retrieved from http://www.yazda.org/1152/, (last accessed 23 May 2016).
Younis, N. (2015, 16 August). How Isis has established a bureaucracy of rape. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/16/isis-systematic-rape-sharia-justification-sex-slavery, (last accessed 15 April 2016).
- There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright © 2012-2017 Kurdish Studies / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us
TRANSNATIONAL PRESS LONDON LTD. IS A COMPANY REGISTERED IN ENGLAND AND WALES No. 8771684.