Gendered aspects of privatizing force in counterinsurgent warfare
Women suffer in times of armed conf lict, not only as civilians who face the violence and deprivations that accompany war, but also in ways that are specifically gendered. In the 2003-13 US-led Coalition operations in Iraq, Iraqi women, who had once enjoyed some of the best legal protections in the region, found that their rights had deteriorated under the occupation. A general climate of physical insecurity, as well as security measures taken to reinforce security such as walls and checkpoints, restricted women’s movements outside of their homes (Human Rights Watch, 2003a; Human Rights Watch, 2003b; Zangana, 2010). Both Coalition forces and private contractors committed acts of sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture against women (Human Rights Watch, 2005; Whitcomb, 2014). The rise of religious conservatism and the inf luence of extremism also contributed to restricting women’s rights and freedom of movement. This has been heightened by the recent incursion of ISIS forces in northern Iraq, whose militants have committed acts of rape and enslavement against women (McLaughlin, 2014).