Jonathan Fisher is a lecturer in international development, researching the relationship between Western aid donors and developing states. He is particularly interested in how donors ‘construct’ perceptions of foreign governments and key concepts (eg ‘fragile state’) in international development. He is also interested in the extent to which these ‘knowledge construction’ processes are influenced by external actors and bureaucratic structures as well as by policy-makers themselves. Jonathan co-convenes postgraduate modules on Aid Management and on Critical Approaches to Development for both on-campus and distance learning students.
And so it ends. After months of preparation, fretting over guest lists, measuring flags and re-drafting seating arrangements, the Somalia Conference is over. The final communiqué has been issued, the speeches uploaded to YouTube and the attendees prepped for the next leg of the reconstruction roadshow. Representatives of Somalia’s new administration can look forward to high-level discussions in Tokyo, Nairobi, Brussels and Istanbul – not to mention in New York and Addis Ababa – over the coming months where plans to rebuild the devastated former state will be fleshed-out in consultation with regional and international partners. What can be said, then, of last week’s event in London? A milestone on the path to Somalia’s rebirth or a day of prepared statements and hotel rooms? A conference that will set in motion a renewed commitment to re-assembling a shattered country or, like last year’s London Somalia Conference, one that will be remembered as little more than yet another inconsequential Somalia summit?
The answers to these questions will, naturally, come with time and cannot be found in the measured but vague statements released from the conference over the course of last Tuesday’s deliberations. Needless to say, though, that any successes in Somalia will come from a combination of two things: the level of commitment by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s weak government (in power since last autumn) to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of Somalis outside militarized Mogadishu and the extent to which international actors (including regional African states) are willing to support it in its effort to do so. The evolving role of Somalia’s neighbours – particularly of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda – as the country gets back on its feet is, in fact, one of the major debates that is yet to be had out in the open. It remains, however, one of the two elephants in the room when it comes to finding global ‘Somalia solutions’ (as Private Eye might have it) – the other being the looming presence of Istanbul and its unilateralist approach to Somali diplomacy.
For the Hassan Sheikh administration owes even its tenuous hold over Mogadishu almost entirely to its African brethren; Ugandan troops make up the bulk of the AU peacekeeping force, AMISOM, which has pushed Islamist militant group Al-Shaaab out of the Somali capital and restored a level of order there since its inception in 2007. Likewise, the battle to extend the government’s writ throughout the rest of the country, much of it still under Al-Shabaab control outside major cities, is being waged not by government forces – such as they are – but by the Ethiopian and Kenyan militaries which intervened in Somalia in 2006 and 2011 respectively. The rebuilding of Somalia hangs very much, therefore, on the establishment of a strong, disciplined and broad-based security apparatus which Somalis view as legitimate and which AMISOM and Ethiopian forces can hand over to in the months and years to come.
The Somali government’s plan for developing this apparatus was shared with its regional partners at the Somalia Conference and it remains to be seen how they respond to it both operationally and politically. My own discussions with African officials and observers in Addis Ababa and Kampala during the last month, however, lead me to conclude that the path to a handover will not be as harmonious as Tuesday’s Communique suggests. For while Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda remain divided on some key questions (for example, whether Somalia should adopt a federal or unitary political system) they remain fairly united on others. The question of the new Somali government’s ability to deliver such a robust and inclusive security sector is in the latter category – and one which all three administrations would privately answer in the negative. The problem for them, though, is not so much Mogadishu’s perceived incompetencies but rather its reluctance to take advice from its regional patrons.
Unlike his predecessors, who presided over a ‘transitional government’ between 2004-2012, Hassan Sheikh became the first ‘permanent’ president of Somalia for nearly two decades last year and has already overseen the re-establishing of diplomatic ties with the US and the International Financial Institutions. Emboldened by these trappings of sovereignty, the Somali leader has adopted a much less subservient persona in his dealings with regional counterparts, increasingly insisting on his door – rather than that of the Ugandan president or Ethiopian prime minister – being the ‘one door to knock on’ for those interested in reconstructing Somalia.
This posturing has rankled with the occupants of regional presidential mansions who have been used, since the mid-2000s, to getting their way in Mogadishu – in 2011, for example, Uganda forced out Somalia’s prime minister as part of a ‘Kampala Accord’ and secured the extension of former president Sharif Ahmed’s mandate by a year. Viewing the Somali administration as inexperienced, naïve and inward-looking, regional powers are loath to allow it full rein over coordinating international efforts in the country. They are less clear, however, over which body should carry out this responsibility: when I asked one senior official from a nearby African state recently ‘if not the Somali government, then who?’ I was told, after some hesitation, that it should be ‘the AU….or [regional body] IGAD…probably’.
Africa and aid-watchers will immediately recognize from this dynamic a familiar debate on the issue of ‘ownership’ – a ubiquitous but slippery term in the development world since the late 1990s. Indeed, how to foster and secure ‘Somali ownership’ was a key theme in many speeches made in London last week. While the debate may be familiar, though, the context most certainly is not. For in the case of Somalia, it is not simply ‘Western’ donors negotiating ownership with African aid recipients but Africans negotiating it with other Africans. Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and other forces in today’s Somalia have, in part, taken on the role of donors in the last few years – even if much of their funding (at least with AMISOM members) still comes from Europe and North American governments.
For this author, then, three key questions emerge from the Somalia Conference. One: Will African governments succeed in fostering ‘recipient ownership’ of development where Western donors have largely failed? Two: Do they actually want to? And three: To what extent is this a portent of things to come? Though it has its detractors, the African intervention in Somalia represents – thus far – one of the most successful international peacekeeping missions implemented anywhere, by anyone, in the last decade. Coupled with the AU’s growing commitment and competence in leading such missions and Western nations’ reluctance to pledge their own troops to them, are we now entering the final days of UN-style international peacekeeping missions? If so, do we need to start thinking more seriously about what ‘local’ ownership means when neighbours are building or re-building neighbours?
Political Activism, Legal Discourses and Sexual violence in India: What Does the Delhi Rape Case Reveal?
Geetanjali Gangoli works at the Centre for Gender Violence and Research, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. She has researched and published widely in the area of gender based violence and feminist movements.
Martin Rew is a Lecturer at the International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK. He has published widely on gender in India, including on dowry violence.
Rape is linked with power, that is, the power that men enjoy in society.… Rape brings out, and enlarges opposition between the sexes nakedly, unlike other forms of gender based oppression, such as lower wages for women. Rape, and the fear of rape therefore is an instrument for terrorising and paralysing women, contributing to a low sense of self worth (Gothoskar, 1980).
The brutal incident of rape and murder in December 2012 of a 23 year old student on a bus in Delhi has been the catalyst of intense social and political activism against sexual violence in India.The student and her companion were attacked with iron rods by the six men who were driving around the city on a bus and stopped to pick up the pair; they thought it was regular public transport vehicle. The woman was repeatedly gang raped, while the bus drove through a series of police checkpoints over several hours; subsequently, the men stripped the pair and dumped them by the side of the road. She died from her injuries on 26th December 2012, marking a sombre end to the year.
This incident has received much attention within the media both nationally and internationally, and there have been calls for changes to the rape law. These demands range from the rational – speedy disposal of rape cases, abolition of the two fingeri test – to the controversial – death sentences for rapists – to the ludicrous – chemical castration for men convicted in rape cases.ii As is apparent from these demands, the political movement itself that has followed this incident is multifaceted, and unlike earlier activism on sexual violence against women no longer confined to left wing and feminist groups and individuals.iii
It seems timely at this stage to reflect on how current legal discourses in India construct sexual violence, and to think of ways in which these can be challenged to ensure safety for women.
Shifts in Rape law in India
The rape law was first enacted in 1860 as a part of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and was defined as penile penetration into the vagina.iv The crime of rape therefore is gender specific, and can only be committed by men on women, and male rape by men can only be charged under Section 377, which criminalises both consensual and non consensual sex between men as an unnatural sexual act (Gangoli, 2011).v The law does not however criminalise marital rape, and until 2010, allowed the victim’s sexual history to be adduced during trial, under Section 155 of the 1872 Indian Evidence Act. It has been suggested that the legal concern with defining rape as an offence was to regulate the sexuality of the woman, and not to protect her bodily integrity (Das, 1996).
Three cases in the late 1970s and early 1980s created a public debate around the issue of rape, and fed into the newly emerging feminist movement in India. This movement created a nationwide campaign on the issue of rape which led to amendments to the rape law in 1983.
The first case was that of Rameezabee, a Muslim working class woman from Hyderabad, arrested on the grounds of ‘loitering’, who were gang raped by three policemen, and prosecuted for enticing minor girls into prostitution; the second of a tribal girl, Mathura, raped in a police station by two policemen; and the third, Maya Tyagi, a middle class young woman, sexually harassed, stripped in public and gang raped by the police (Gangoli 2010).
The three cases, both individually and collectively, led to a major campaign on the issue of rape in police custody. At a national level, the feminist campaign focussed on demanding amendments to the rape law, asking for a legal recognition of rape by men in authority, a formal recognition of rape within marriage, and an expansion of rape beyond penile penetration to reflect the experiences of women.
Rape law amendment
On August 12th 1980, a Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend certain provisions of the rape law. The Bill suggested four major changes. Firstly, a prohibition on press coverage of any incident of rape, or any publicity that revealed the name of the offender or the victim. Secondly, a new section attempted to define consent more clearly. Rape was held to have taken place when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman ‘without her free and voluntary consent’. Thirdly, the marital rape exemption would not be applicable in cases of judicial separation. Finally, a major amendment was the introduction of Section 376 to the IPC, which introduced a new category of rape — gang rape and custodial rape, or rape by the police, by public servants, by superintendents or managers of jails, remand homes, or hospitals, committed on women under their custody. These ‘categories’ of rape were treated as aggravated sexual assaults, and incurred a higher sentence than other forms of rape, and the onus of proof was shifted from the victim to the accused, reversing the generally applicable legal principle of innocent until proven guilty. Finally, the Bill provided that under Section 228 A, rape cases should be conducted ‘in camera’, i.e., unlike other trials, they would not be subjected to and open to public scrutiny and attendance (Bill No. 162 of 1980). The Bill was referred to a Joint Committee comprising of representatives from both houses of Parliament, which consulted with women’s groups, lawyers and the press (1982).
The Joint Committee report, voicing the concerns of some feminist groups, opposed Section 228 A, holding that under certain circumstances, publicity may be ‘necessary for proper investigation’ and may be desired by the victim. Further, the Committee suggested that provisions regarding rapes by policemen be strengthened; that Section 376 be extended to all the staff of a jail, not merely the supervisory staff; that rapes in hospitals be extended to include visitors, as well as patients; and that the rape of minors be included under this section. Other general recommendations made by the Joint Committee included: that women should not be arrested after sunset and before sunrise; that medical examination of the accused and of the complainant be performed immediately on complaint, that social welfare officials be associated in the procedures; that compensation be given to rape victims to compensate for social ostracism. However, the Joint Committee report did not accept the recommendations of women’s organisations that the past sexual history of the woman not be adduced in the evidence, or during cross examination (Joint Committee Report, 1982).
The final law did acknowledge the importance of custodial rape, but did not take up many suggestions made by women’s groups. The law continued to treat the past sexual history of the woman as relevant (this was repealed only in 2003); and press restrictions on the trial were imposed. Further, marital rape continued to be outside the remit of the rape law, though the amendments allowed rape charges to be brought forward for judicially separated couples. While this was a significant shift, the amendment did not go far enough in challenging patriarchal assumptions about women’s rights within marriage. Finally, rape continues to be defined exclusively as penile penetration into the vagina. The rape law therefore is based on, and legitimises several patriarchal presumptions, and attitudes regarding male and female sexuality, including the idea that within marriage women are the sexual property of their husbands.
While the rape law itself is problematic, there are also issues with implementation. In spite of legal amendments, custodial rape by the police are treated as ‘routine’ cases, negating the amendments made in 1983, and rates of conviction in cases of custodial rape are very low (PUDR, 1994 cited in Gangoli, 2011). Women are most likely to believed if they are single and ‘virginal’, or married and ‘chaste’. Further, working class women are seen as sexually available, as they are less secluded and consequently less ‘respectable’ than middle class women.
Judicial interpretations in cases of custodial rape following the 1983 amendment demonstrate that in spite of the change in the law that shifted the onus of proof in these cases onto the accused, judicial interpretations remained centred on questions of the ‘character’ of the complainant. As most of the cases of custodial rape are perpetrated against working class women, class assumptions regarding sexuality are apparent. In an incident of gang rape by policemen in a village in the state of Bihar in 1988, a large group of police gang raped 19 women. The case attracted much press coverage, and the state government awarded the women Rs. 1000 as ex-gratia payment. However, as the investigation by the local police was not carried out properly, there was insufficient evidence to convict the accused, and the judge remarked, ‘It can not be ruled out that these ladies might speak falsehood to get a sum of Rs. 1000 which was a huge sum for them’ (cited in Baxi, 1995, p 128). Further he noted the defence counsel’s argument that ‘the women could not be equated with such ladies who hailed from decent and respectable societies, as they were engaged in menial work, and were of questionable character’ (Cited in Baxi, 1995, p 129).
Women are more likely to be believed if they conform to social stereotypes of the chaste and virginal woman, and if this is the case, judges are less likely to insist on corroborative evidence under the 1872 Indian Evidence Act, which is often reduced to physical injuries suffered by the victim (1972 Cri L J 824 Raj) or other witness statements (Naravan V. The State of Rajasthan, 2007). Judgements are also based on nationalist sentiments, where Indian women are seen as less likely to lie about rape because of the higher standards of morality in Indian society. In a case of custodial rape, the judges held that to disbelieve a woman, especially a ‘young girl’ was to insult womanhood, and they suggested that Indian women are unlikely to lie about rape. The judges stated:
Ours is a conservative society where it concerns sexual behaviour. Ours is not a permissive society, as in some of the western or European countries. Our standards of decency and morality are not the same as in those countries…. Courts must also realise that ordinarily a woman, more so a young girl, will not stake her reputation by levying a false charge concerning her chastity (State of Maharasthra V. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain with Stree Atyachar Virodhi Parishad V. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain 1990).
The judicial mind exercises sympathy where the victim is a young and virginal child. While deciding on an appeal made to the Supreme Court ten years after a child of nine was raped, the judges noted that the loss of virginity had blighted her chances of a happy married life:
The victim who is now 19 years old, after having lost her virginity still remains unmarried undergoing the untold agony of the traumatic experience and the deathless shame suffered by her. Evidently, the victim is under the impression that there is no monsoon season in her life and that her future chances for getting married and settling down in a respectable family are completely marred (Madan Gopal Kakkad V. Naval Dubey and Anr 1992).
Even after the 2003 amendment which disallowed the use of the ‘past sexual history’ of the woman in rape trials, these stereotypes continued to affect sentencing of the accused. A study of rape cases conducted by a law professor revealed that in cases where the medical report indicated that the woman had been sexually active before marriage, lower sentences were imposed on the offenders than in cases where a virgin was raped.vi
These judgments reveal a number of assumptions about male and female sexuality. Most obvious is that the courts constantly emphasise the ‘chastity’ of the raped woman, or its absence. Even in ‘positive’ judgments, when the woman conforms to the standards of womanhood held as ideal by the judge, the focus is on the loss of honour and shame suffered by the woman. Rape is not seen as a violation of bodily integrity, but as a loss of family honour.
This brief assessment of Indian rape law and its implementation highlights that the best efforts by feminists can only partially influence the criminal justice system. The Indian feminist movements have recognised rape as a form of male oppression and control over women since the 1970s. However the Indian legal system prefers to see it as an issue of loss of honour of the raped woman. Recent moves to reform the rape law, such as the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012 introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, seek to replace the term rape with sexual assault, and to introduce a wider range of sexual offences than the current rape law, including ‘(a) penetration of a person’s vagina, anus, urethra or mouth with any part of the body including the penis, or any other object for a sexual purpose; (b) manipulation of a body part of another person so as to cause penetration of the vagina, anus, urethra or mouth by any part of the other person’s body; (c) cunnilingus and fellatio (Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012). However, and controversially, the widening of the category of sexual assault also seeks to make the crime gender neutral, and women, men and trans gendered persons are deemed possible perpetrators of sexual violence. The Justice Verma Committee Report published in January 2013, which is a direct response to the December Delhi rape case, is closer to feminist concerns, and indeed has been praised as providing ‘the Delhi protests with a manifesto for radical transformation’.(Baxi, 2013) The Justice Verma report casts rape as a gendered crime, which is primarily committed by men (while victims could be men and transgendered persons), seeks to expand the legal concept of consent, and also recognises and recommends that marital rape be recognised as a crime.
Demands for legal changes are often an immediate response to social issues, especially in the area of gender based violence, but even moderate ‘successes’ – such as the inclusion of the custodial rape clause and the repeal of the ‘past sexual history’ clause – are often rendered useless where social attitudes regarding women’s sexuality remain unchanged. Recent online fora such as FeministsIndia and Law and other things have debated this dilemma, and perhaps within this context, calls for increased stringency in rape trials following the tragic case in Delhi, can perhaps yield very little in the absence of consistent intervention to shift social attitudes. Feminists are also concerned that the Justice Verma Committee report, while welcome, may not go far enough in some areas – for instance, the report does not comment on Section 377 IPC (Baxi, 2013), or in the area of rights of disabled people and sexual minorities.
To conclude, while feminist legal interventions may remain unsatisfactory there is a danger in abandoning the legal sphere – as some commentators argue, on the grounds that feminist engagement with law can ‘radically refract the ethical and emancipatory impulse of feminism itself’ (Menon 1995:369), as they serve to meet the State’s agenda in ‘categorising, concretising, and regulating (sexual or otherwise) behavior, which can be inimical to the interests of marginal groups’ (Menon 1995: 370; Menon, 2004). The dangers in abandoning the legal sphere for feminists, as we have argued elsewhere (Gangoli and Rew, 2011), is that the legal sphere gets overtaken by misogynist interventions that demand protection for women, rather than protecting women’s rights; they then project women’s bodies as belonging to the family or nation, rather than to themselves, subsequently calling for the death penalty or chemical castration. Legal intervention, therefore, must be seen as one aspect of multiple strategies within the Indian women’s movement which seek to challenge, redefine and reshape patriarchal conceptualizations of women’s sexuality in law and society.
i This test allows doctors to insert two fingers into the raped woman’s vagina to figure out whether the hymen is distensible or not. This then leads to the inference that the rape survivor is habituated to sex, introducing past sexual history into rape trials. See for instance Rape: More than a battle for justice; Pratiksha Baxi, Ban the two-finger test in rape cases.
iii Gangoli, 2007; Shah and Gandhi, 1989.
iv Under Section 375, the IPC states that a man is said to commit the offence of rape against a woman under the following six circumstances. Sexual intercourse against the victim’s will:
- Without the victim’s consent;
- With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person that she may be interested in fear of death or hurt;
- With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband;
- With her consent, when at the time of giving such consent she was intoxicated, or is suffering from unsoundness of mind and does not understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent;
- With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.
v In July 2009, following much action by human and gay rights groups, the Delhi High Court revoked the criminalisation of consensual sexual acts between men under Section 377. However, this was only applicable to the State of Delhi and not the entire country.
Gothoskar, S. (1980). Politics of rape. Paper presented at National Conference on Perspectives for Women’s Liberation in India, Bombay, 1st.
Baxi, P. (1995). The Normal and the Pathological in the Construction of Rape. A Sociological Analysis, M.Phil Thesis, Delhi, Department. of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.
Baxi, P. (2013). The Verma Manifesto. Available online: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/the-verma-manifesto/1064418.
Das, V. (1996). Sexual Violence, Discursive Formations and the State, Economic and Political Weekly, 31, 2411-23.
Joint Committee Report on the Bill to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The Gazette of India Extraordinary. Part II, Section II. November 2nd, 1982.
Gangoli, G. (2007). Indian Feminisms. Campaigns against Violence and Multiple Patriarchies, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Gangoli, G. (2011). Controlling Women’s Sexuality. Rape Law in India. In Westmarland, N. and Gangoli, G. (eds) International Approaches to Rape, 101-146. Bristol: Policy Press.
Gangoli, G. and Rew, M. (2011). Mothers-in-law against daughters-in-law: domestic violence and legal discourses around mother-in-law violence against daughters-in-laws in India. Women’s Studies International Journal, 34, 420-429.
Gothoskar, S. (1980). Politics of Rape. Paper Presented at National Conference on Perspectives for Women’s Liberation in India, Bombay, 1 November 1980, on file with Akshara: A Women’s Resource Centre (Unpublished).
Menon, N. (1995). The Impossibility of ‘Justice’: Female Feoticide and Feminist Discourse on Abortion, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 29, 369-392.
Menon, N. (2004). Recovering Subversion: Feminist Politics Beyond the Law. New Delhi: Permanent Black.
People’s Union for Democratic Rights (1994). Custodial Rape, New Delhi: PUDR.
Andrew Nickson has extensive worldwide experience of teaching, research and consultancy on public administration reform, decentralisation, and the reform of basic service delivery and regulation of privatised public utilities. He has been advisor to DFID, OECD, British Council, UN agencies, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and the European Union on numerous consultancies. This post is based on the introduction to The Paraguay Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University Press, 2012), edited with Peter Lambert.
Paraguay has long been seen as one of the forgotten corners of the globe, a place that slips beneath the radar of most diplomats, academics, journalists, and tourists in Latin America. Paraguay is a country defined not so much by association as by isolation. The renowned Paraguayan writer Augusto Roa Bastos famously remarked that Paraguay’s landlocked isolation made it like an island surrounded by land.
Yet Paraguay is developing and globalizing fast. It is a major exporter of electricity, soy, and beef; its economy grew by 14 percent in 2010, the second fastest in the world; and it has one of the world’s largest deposits of titanium. Asunción is waking up from its long siesta to the pressures of a rapidly growing population, the choking smell of fumes from seemingly unending traffic jams, and the fear of crime around every corner. The deafening whine of locally produced Chinese mopeds has replaced the sound of crickets in most town squares.
However, this long, historical isolation has meant that Paraguay has been largely neglected by historians, journalists, and travel writers. Ignorance has allowed Paraguay to become a perfect blank space for others’ writing and imaginings. Viewing Paraguay with a mix of suspicion, humor, fondness, and disdain, they have too often glided over complex issues of culture and politics, replacing them with tired references to either crazy wars, endemic corruption, Nazi war criminals and savage natives, or tin-pot dictators and brutal tyrants.
Repeatedly presented as an isolated and underdeveloped cultural backwater, a dangerous but attractive land where magical realism and reality seem to collide, Paraguay is often portrayed as the epitome of exoticism, peculiarity, and exceptionalism. Such an image is insidious because it conveniently overlooks and ignores the less sensationalist reality of a country struggling against underdevelopment, foreign intervention, poverty, inequality, and authoritarianism, and of individual and collective struggles for social justice against enormous odds.
But the lure of Paraguay has remained constant. For centuries foreigners have viewed the country through their own ideological and religious gaze, often seeking to create their own utopias over existing realities. Paraguay has been a melting pot of immigrants; Spanish, Italian, German, Balkan, middle eastern, black African, Russian, Japanese, Korean, South African, Latin American have all mixed in Paraguay.
For the Spanish, Paraguay offered a relatively safe and comfortable location for settlement. The Jesuits organized Guaraníes into productive communities, indoctrinated them into Catholicism, but protected them from marauding Brazilian slave traders. When independence came in 1811, Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia sought to avoid the anarchy and chaos of other newly independent Latin American states by establishing a dictatorship that destroyed the power of the Spanish elites, the church, and the landowning class. His successor Carlos Antonio López (1840–62) oversaw Paraguay’s emergence as an important regional power, complete with railway, telegraph lines, a shipyard, and an iron foundry.
Then Francisco Solano López, the son of Carlos, led Paraguay into the catastrophe of the Triple Alliance War (1864–70) against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, which brought a dramatic end to Paraguay’s state-led development. In a war against Bolivia (1932–35), Paraguay gained in terms of territory but lost some thirty to forty thousand lives in the process, many of them from thirst. Scarcely recovered, the country fell into a brutal civil war (1947) and then, seven years later, into the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954-89).
Stroessner’s former military strongman, General Andrés Rodríguez, introduced a new constitution, free elections, and civil liberties, but the Colorado Party, the mainstay of the Stroessner dictatorship, continued to win elections throughout the next two decades. Only in 2008 did the opposition candidate, the former bishop Fernando Lugo, manage to end over sixty years of Colorado rule and usher in his aptly titled ‘New Dawn’ for Paraguay.
Our aim in writing The Paraguay Reader has been to produce an enjoyable, informative, and well-structured anthology of writings on the politics, society, and culture of the country. Six of the Reader’s seven sections are chronological, from the first, ‘The Birth of Paraguay’, to the sixth, ‘A Transition in Search of Democracy’. The final section, ‘What Does it Mean to be Paraguayan?’ examines key issues surrounding national identity, cultural characteristics, ethnicity, language, and gender. Throughout we have contextualized the extracts, many of which are abridged, by using explanatory introductions.
Wherever possible we have tried to include ‘voices from below’ or at least contemporary accounts by Paraguayans. There is a lack of written historical testimonies and memoirs by Paraguayans, however, and so we have included a number of pieces written by foreigners. Wherever possible we have also tried to use voices from the period under consideration. Again, suitable extracts have often been difficult to find, and thus in some cases we have opted for more recent analyses by outstanding historians, including Branislava Susnik, R B. Cunninghame Graham, Harris Gaylord Warren, Ignacio Telesca, and Thomas Whigham.
Most of the texts that we selected are being published in English for the first time, and some have not previously been published in any language. ‘Lincolnshire Farmers’, ‘How Beautiful is Your Voice’, and ‘The Psychology of López’ are all published here for the first time, while ‘The Sufferings of a French Lady’ was published just once in Buenos Aires in 1870 and is hardly known. We believe the translations are of a very high quality, not only in terms of grammatical and linguistic accuracy, but also in terms of style, fluency, and ‘voice’.
We have tried to be as eclectic as possible in terms of the tone, style, and nature of the extracts we have chosen. hence we have included examples of testimonies, light-hearted journalistic pieces, academic analyses, political tracts, poetry and song, literature, and even a recipe. At the same time we have also tried to cover all major historical events, sectors, and issues. We hope that, in so doing, it will help dispel the many myths about the country, and that it will strike a small blow for people’s history over fantasy, cliché, and stereotype.
Photo courtesy of Natalia Daporta via Flickr.com, Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Anna Townsend is a military wife and founder of Women Without Roofs – Nepal. She recently completed an MSc in Poverty Reduction and Development Management with IDD. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2004 I accompanied my husband, a British Army Officer serving with the Gurkhas, to live in Kathmandu, Nepal and so began an ongoing passion for all things Nepali. Having set up the charity Women Without Roofs to benefit destitute women, I found myself in the City of London in 2011 at a Charity Dragons’ Den event trying to raise some funds. It was however a propitious evening, not least because the Dragons liked our charity, but also because I was introduced to Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Britain and Nepal. So it was that whilst all my fellow students flew off to sunnier climes for their dissertation research, I made the journey to Stafford on the train!
Both Jeremy and I were aware that the decision to allow Gurkhas to settle in the UK following their service in the British Army, famously fought for by Joanna Lumley, had had a negative impact on Nepal. Gurkhas now look towards their future in the UK and therefore no longer send large amounts of money home to Nepal to be invested there. Towns such as Dharan, that I had visited whilst living in Nepal, were once orderly and booming thanks to the influence of the retired Gurkhas resident there. Council services, such as rubbish collections, were introduced and the entire town population benefited.
My research quest therefore became to understand what influence the Gurkhas, now in their new role as a diaspora, could have on Nepal’s development from afar. At no point did I take for granted that Gurkhas should be helping Nepal develop, but I did assume that Gurkhas would want to make a meaningful contribution to Nepal and this assumption was justified by the enthusiasm I met with in focus groups with the Gurkhas and their wives serving in Stafford. I also believed that the British Government, having disadvantaged Nepal by holding on to retired Gurkhas, was morally obliged to help and of course the Nepali government should be doing all it can, though I discovered it wasn’t.
The research identified eight areas in which Gurkhas could aid and assist Nepal to develop. These were, in summary: Advocate and lobby on behalf of Nepal, Increase the value of remittances through charity giving, Invest in a diaspora or public bond, Plan for and participate in disaster response, Build trade links with Nepal, Use sport for development, Involve themselves with the wider development community and finally there were several areas of policy that could be amended to help development.
Diaspora bonds are in vogue with the World Bank right now (Dilip Ratha heads up the research) and are perceived as having great potential for raising development finance. Nepal Rastra Bank (the national bank of Nepal) has tentatively made them available for purchase by its diaspora and I was able to meet and interview their Executive Director of Public Debt whilst visiting Nepal – I made it beyond Stafford eventually! Sadly his answers to my questions about the bond gave me no confidence in the worthiness of the product and it even transpired that the Government could cover any shortfall if the bond did not sell. It seems Nepal’s own Government thinks the country is too unstable to invest in right now and so its treasury is full. I found this staggering.
Both the suggestions that Gurkhas could be involved in disaster response and use sport for development play to their particular strengths as a diaspora group. Gurkhas serve in the British Army as Logisticians, Signallers (communications specialists) and Engineers, all of which, coupled with their language skills, would make them extremely useful in the wake of a disaster in Nepal; given that the country sits on a major fault line this is more than likely. The Gurkha Major in Aldershot had a keen desire to see Nepal compete on the global sporting stage and he wished to copy the success of Kenya by finding and training great runners from impoverished backgrounds. He hoped this would help Nepalis to feel proud of their nation.
As a military wife I was most encouraged by the compassion yet worldliness of the Gurkha wives. They were aware of the problems of human trafficking in Nepal and were keen to do what they could to raise awareness of the issue in their home villages. My research suggests that it is they who have the most time and enthusiasm for the solutions I recommended and my hope is to continue working with them both in Stafford and in Aldershot where I now live.
International development policy and practice are expected to be based on the best available evidence, but ensuring that people have the right information at the right time is not a simple task. What information and knowledge do policy-makers and practitioners need, and how do they use it? How can we manage and communicate knowledge effectively across the wide range of disciplines and contexts in international development to support better-informed policy and practice? How can we evaluate the impact of research and evidence on policy and practice?
On 17 October, 2012, the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham brought together leading experts on research communication to share experiences and lessons learned about managing knowledge and evaluating the uptake and impact of research and evidence on policy and practice. Approximately 50 people from academic institutions, think-tanks, and consulting firms across the UK attended the workshop.
Audio recordings of and a report of the event will be available soon on the International Development Department’s web site. In the meantime, the PowerPoint slides shown by presenters can be downloaded below.
- Olivia Kew-Fickus, Director of Strategic Planning, University of Birmingham
The uptake of social science research and evidence in public policy
- Fiona Armstrong, Head of Knowledge Exchange, ESRC [PowerPoint slides]
- Andrew Rathmell, Senior Principal, Governance, Security and Justice Team, Coffey International Development [No PowerPoint slides]
The demand side of research and evidence in development
- Derick Brinkerhoff, Distinguished Fellow, RTI International [PowerPoint slides]
- Kirsty Newman, Research Uptake Manager, Research and Evidence Division, DFID [PowerPoint slides]
- Sarah Lister, Democratic Governance Adviser, Oslo Governance Centre, UNDP [PowerPoint slides]
- Jo Duffy, Research Development Leader for International Development, ESRC [PowerPoint slides]
Monitoring and evaluating the uptake and impact of research
- Fred Carden, Evaluation Director, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada [Speaking notes] [PowerPoint slides]
- John Young, Director of Impact Assessment, Partnerships and RAPID, ODI [PowerPoint slides]
- Elise Wach, Evaluation and Learning Advisor, Impact and Learning Team, IDS [PowerPoint slides]
Knowledge brokers and networks
- Brian Lucas, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham [PowerPoint slides]
- Liz Hart, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway [No PowerPoint slides]
- Paul Knox-Clarke, Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action [No PowerPoint slides]
- Katie Welford, Evidence and Lessons Learned from Latin America, Practical Action Consulting [PowerPoint slides]
- Yaso Kunaratnam, I-K-Mediaries network and Knowledge Brokers Forum, IDS [PowerPoint slides]
This event was made possible thanks to funding from the University of Birmingham’s International Development Department and College of Social Sciences Advanced Social Science Collaborative. Thanks to Coffey International Development for sponsoring the evening reception.
Nicolas Lemay-Hébert is a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher at the International Development Department, University of Birmingham and research group leader, “State-building, Security and Development,” at the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security, University of Birmingham. He has conducted fieldwork in Timor-Leste (Summer 2008) for the Institutions for Fragile States Program – Princeton University. His recent and forthcoming publications on the subject include “The ‘Empty Shell’ Approach: The Set Up Process of International Administrations in Timor-Leste and Kosovo, Its Consequences and Lessons,” International Studies Perspectives 12(2), 2011, 188-209; “Coerced Transitions in Timor-Leste and Kosovo: Managing Competing Objectives of Institution-Building and Local Empowerment,” Democratization 19(3), 2012, 465-485; “A Sisyphean Exercise of SSR and Statebuilding: Examining the Role of the UN in Timor-Leste,” in Felix Heiduk, ed. Moving From Policy to Practice: Security Sector Reform in Southeast Asia. Basingstoke : Palgrave, 2013 (under review).
Timor-Leste held its third parliamentary elections last July, which were seen as a crucial test for the nation, especially with the United Nations’ scheduled withdrawal by year’s end. Xanana Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) received 37% of the vote, winning 30 seats out of 65. The CNRT formed a coalition government with the Democratic Party (PD), which represented 10% of the vote and 8 seats, and Frenti-Mudansa (FM), with 3% of the vote and 2 seats. The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) came second and will be the opposition in parliament. Despite being carried out peacefully, the 2012 elections were marked by a certain degree of postelectoral violence perpetrated by Fretilin members (or thought to be) after the constitution of the government. 63 cars were damaged, 7 houses were set on fire and 5 police officers were wounded when Fretilin followers reacted to the CNRT’s decision to constitute a government without Fretilin’s support. While these incidents have been subject of a heated debate among experts on the causes of the violence (relayed by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network website), they shed light on a certain number of statebuilding challenges for the future government of Timor-Leste.
First, the chasm between Fretilin and the CNRT is not new. After being placed under direct international administration between 1999 and 2002 (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor – UNTAET), Timor-Leste’s statebuilding process suffered an important setback in 2006, with the collapse of its security institutions amidst political manipulation of these institutions by rivaling parties – the CNRT and Fretilin. The East Timorese National Police (PNTL) was progressively militarized by the then-minister of interior, Rogerio Lobato, close to Mari Alkatiri, leader of Fretilin, who decided to turn the police force into a security institution to compete with the Gusmão-controlled Timorese Lorosae Defence Forces (F–FDTL). The country, once a “success story” for the UN, suddenly became branded as a failed state by the international community. In this context, the UN was forced back in the country in 2006 through the set-up of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), in order to give enough time for the PNTL to be restructured effectively, and for training and mentoring to take place. However, the political and security challenges are still present. All the effort deployed by the UN leadership to induce the Timorese officials to reduce their political involvement over the PNTL has been largely ineffective. This is worrisome, considering the fact that it was one of the major causes of the 2006 crisis. If the UN has been fairly successful in restoring stability and order in Timor-Leste, it fell short of effectively assisting the statebuilding process in the country.
On the economic front, the statebuilding challenges for the newest Asian country were – and still are – numerous. The territory was already one of the poorest areas in Southeast Asia before 1999, with an estimated GDP per capita of US$431 in 1996. The 1999 conflict led to further declining of approximately 40 to 45% of the GDP in 1999, while the estimated GDP per capita in 1999 was in the range of US$337. Furthermore, prior to the 1999 referendum, Timor-Leste was heavily dependent on external transfers, with approximately 85 per cent of recurrent and capital expenditure coming from Indonesia. If economic growth has been impressive following the intervention, it was driven largely by the infusion of spending by UN personnel. Non-oil GDP fell in 2002 and 2003, and may have grown by only 2 per cent in 2004. However, non-oil per capita incomes have increased from an average of US$ 398 in 2007 to US$ 599 in 2009, and the percentage of the population living in poverty has been estimated to have fallen from 49.9% in 2007 to 41% in 2009, showing economic improvements in Timor-Leste (UNDP 2011). The economic challenges are nevertheless immense: Timor-Leste ranked 152nd out of 162 countries for which Human Development Index were calculated in 1999, and still ranks at 147th out of 187 countries in 2011. In this context, and as Max Lane pointed out, the Gusmão government implanted a number of policies that were highly popular, and that outweighed alleged claims of mismanagement and corruption, including old-age pensions, free maternal care, wages for village heads, pensions for veterans of the guerrilla struggle and a 30% subsidy on the price of rice (Lane 2012). These policies certainly helped the CNRT win a strong share of the vote in the last elections.
In this context, and despite ongoing security concerns highlighted by the recent incidents, “more UN control, more UN police and more time cannot fix the problem” (International Crisis Group 2009). In fact, as Gil Della-Giacoma pointed out, “the problems of 2002 are very similar to those of 2010, but the obstacles are greater after ten years of such ‘assistance’.” The recent violence did not seem to modify the UN’s scheduled withdrawal, with Ban Ki-Moon praising the Timorese institutions for their handling of the election. This is a helpful development, since while the statebuilding challenges in Timor-Leste are huge, the next steps in the process will have to be made by Timorese themselves.
Photos courtesy of Janina M Pawelz via Flickr.com, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0.
Huma Haider is a research fellow in the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre. Her areas of interest include transitional justice in the context of peacebuilding; coexistence and reconciliation in divided societies; and the participation of refugees, IDPs and diasporas. This post is based on a paper she recently presented at the international conference on Relationships between Diasporas and their “Homelands” and Their Impact on the State, National Identities, and Peace & Conflict at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. The paper can be downloaded at: http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/1588/
In 2007, I worked at the War Crimes Chamber at the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on a case that involved the prosecution of the chief of the Omarska mine just outside of Prijedor. In the summer of 1992, this mine and two other sites in Keraterm and Trnopolje were transformed into Bosnian Serb-administered concentration camps. Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs were detained in horrendous, inhumane conditions, with regular exposure to killings, torture, rape, beatings and humiliation. These camps formed part of the policy of ethnic cleansing. Trial dates at the War Crimes Chamber and the ordering of witnesses were often based on and adjusted in order to accommodate the schedules of survivors from the Bosnian diaspora scattered around the world, travelling to Sarajevo to serve as witnesses. Their testimonies contributed to the gathering of evidence and to the narrative that emerged from the trial. The participation of these witnesses and survivors in the trials also had the potential to benefit their own individual healing and process of personal reconciliation.
Diaspora communities can play an important role in transitional justice processes. Transitional justice seeks to address a legacy of large-scale past abuses, and includes mechanisms such as criminal trials, truth commissions, memorials and reparations. When effectively designed to include the disapora, such mechanisms and processes can contribute to addressing the needs of conflict-generated diaspora communities. However, there has been limited consideration of the participation of the diaspora. Interventions to date have largely focused on populations remaining in the home country and on returnees. Recognising both the importance of engaging conflict-generated diaspora in transitional justice processes and the gap that exists in this area in academic literature and in documented practice, I recently engaged in a scoping exercise to explore these issues. I looked at how diasporas have been involved in transitional justice and potential benefits and challenges.
Diaspora participation in transitional justice
One way in which refugee and diaspora communities have been involved is in providing input to transitional justice strategies. The Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, for example, conducted interviews in 2011 with refugees in camps in Uganda to determine how refugee communities that fled the electoral violence in 2007 could be included in transitional justice processes.
Transitional justice mechanisms have in a couple of unique instances specifically incorporated refugee and diaspora communities in their design and implementation. The most comprehensive effort to date to involve diasporas in all aspects of a transitional justice mechanism is the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (LTRC). The Commission held a series of public hearings in cities overseas with a strong Liberian diaspora presence and took statements from members of the diaspora.
Diaspora communities themselves have also mobilized to initiate transitional justice initiatives or to further ongoing processes. The Haitian diaspora community effectively pushed in the 1990s for the establishment of a truth commission for Haiti. Another way that diasporas have been active is by pushing for justice through universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction legislation in various countries in Europe has provided the possibility of prosecution for serious human rights violations committed anywhere in the world, particularly where the home country justice system is unable or unwilling to prosecute. Chilean Argentinean and Rwandan diaspora communities have relied on such legislation in attempts to have criminals arrested while present in Europe and tried.
Potential benefits of diaspora participation
There are various potential benefits to engaging diasporas in transitional justice. These include diversity of perspectives; more comprehensive truth gathering; greater international awareness; and the potential for addressing societal divisions within diaspora communities.
Surveying a range of perspectives is important to designing and developing transitional justice processes and mechanisms that meet the needs of the diverse populations affected by violent conflict. Diasporas may have different yet meaningful needs that should be expressed in the formulation of policies and in the operation of transitional justice mechanisms. Additionally, the act of listening to and incorporating the voices of diasporas and refugees who were forced to flee their home country can be beneficial in terms of psychological healing.
The participation of diasporas in transitional justice mechanisms can also contribute to more comprehensive gathering of evidence and truth-telling, contributing to greater effectiveness of such initiatives. In the case of trials, diasporas have comprised a significant number of witnesses in international criminal tribunals and in national courts in the homeland, such as the War Crimes Chamber in the State Court of BiH – providing essential testimony and evidence.
Diasporas can also play an active role in outreach and awareness-raising in their host country. The mere involvement of diasporas around the world can garner greater media attention and raise awareness in host countries of transitional justice processes and mechanisms and situations in the homeland.
Transitional justice processes and mechanisms that incorporate diasporas may also have the added benefit of highlighting and addressing divisions and trauma in diaspora communities. The Liberian truth commission revealed the divisions and residual hostilities and tensions present in many diaspora communities. Further, the final commission report formally documents the need for community reconciliation initiatives to be implemented among the diaspora. The Commission’s outreach events in the U.S. also contributed to the initiation of dialogue amongst divided Liberian diasporas.
Potential challenges with diaspora participation
Alongside potential benefits, there are various potential challenges with the involvement of the diaspora that need to be recognised and addressed. A key challenge is how to deal with divergent perspectives between the diaspora and populations living in the country of origin on issues of peace and conflict, recovery strategies, transitional justice and reconciliation; and how to forge links between the populations. The growing independence of some diasporas can lead to the development of interests, opinions and needs distinct from those of the local homeland population. Moreover, homeland populations may resent the input of the diaspora, particularly if they perceive them as having escaped much of the violence and suffering in the home country and living comfortably in the host countries.
Collaborations between the diaspora and populations in the homeland can be essential to addressing divergences in opinions between the communities and also to improve the effectiveness of transitional justice initiatives. Diaspora and local organisations should coordinate their work to avoid working on the same projects in parallel and to ensure that actions are complementary.
It is important to recognise that while some members of the diaspora will mobilize to engage in transitional justice and peacebuilding, there are many others who are unlikely to get involved on their own initiative. Hostland initiatives such as the provision of grants to fund homeland recovery projects by diaspora organisations, which has taken place in various European host countries, can be implemented to create incentives for such transnational activities. Homeland policies can also facilitate diaspora engagement. The hearings that the Liberian truth commission held in the host countries enabled and encouraged the participation of Liberian diaspora, particularly those who were unable to return to Liberia due to immigration status or insufficient resources; or those who would have been unwilling to make the emotional, physical and financial investment to return to the home country to take part.
The engagement of the diaspora in transnational activities cannot be encouraged blindly, however. In some cases, diaspora communities may be less divided and they may harbor more reconciliatory views of the other. However, in other cases, a diaspora community may be deeply divided, nationalistic and conflict-oriented. In such cases, providing the space for members to influence the homeland could be de-stabilising. In order to engage in informed interventions, it is important to assess the conditions of diaspora communities. Efforts should be made to address those that remain divided and nationalistic. This is necessary for the healing of the diaspora communities themselves and also such that they can be transformed into a potential source of peace for the homeland. In some cases, the participation of diasporas in transitional justice may be sufficient support for diasporas to move forward in processes of reconciliation. In other cases, other reconciliation-oriented initiatives, such as dialogue and media initiatives, aimed specifically at promoting such processes may be needed alongside.