Mobilizing marriage and masculinities in times of war: Debates about forced marriage in international criminal law

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 13:00to14:30
Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Join us for an Annie MacDonald Langstaff workshop with Professor Annie Bunting, York University.


Forced marriage has recently formed the basis for charges of crimes against humanity in two cases before the International Criminal Court and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. This new crime against humanity – coming within the category of an "other inhumane act" – was not included in the Rome Statute for the ICC nor the statute establishing the ECCC.

This paper will first explore the way in which expectations concerning marriage and gender were mobilized by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda and by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.  While two very different oppressive regimes, the LRA and the Khmer Rouge raise interesting comparative analyses of the use of marriage as a tool of war. Second, this paper will take up the defenses' claims in both cases that, since arranged or forced marriages were commonplace in Uganda and Cambodia, what happened in war or under the oppressive regime ought not be found to be a crime against humanity. Comparing the institution of marriage in times of peace relative to its mobilization in conflict puts the questions of consent, forced labour, and violence in marriage in sharp relief.

About the speaker

Annie Bunting is an Associate Professor in the Law & Society program at York University in Toronto, teaching in the areas of legal pluralism and human rights. Professor Bunting is a graduate of York, having studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School (1988). She received her LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1991) and her S.J.D. from the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto (1999).

Her research expertise includes socio-legal studies of marriage and childhoods, feminist international law, and culture, religion and law. Her recent edited collections include: Marriage by Force? Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa (with Lawrance and Roberts) Ohio Univ. Press (2016); and Contemporary Slavery: Popular Rhetoric and Political Practice (with Joel Quirk), UBC Press, Law & Society Series (2017).

The Workshops

Inaugurated in 1988 in honour of Annie MacDonald Langstaff, BCL 1914, the first woman to earn a law degree in Quebec, the workshops provide a forum for academics, judges, lawyers, and community activists to present scholarly research and practical insights on issues relating to women and the law.

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