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Volume 23 Issue 2 (August 2011), Pages 229-489

The Gendered Human of Humanitarianism: Medicalising and Politicising Sexual Violence (pages 250-265)

This article examines the relationship between gender and the human through the lens of humanitarianism, whose key mission is to protect ‘humanity’. More specifically, it traces the recent history of the entry of gender‐based violence into the medical humanitarian portfolio, quickly becoming the poster‐child for humanitarian aid. The article argues that this unprecedented attention to gender‐based violence, and its incorporation into the mandate of humanitarians and their mission to protect a universal humanity, works to medicalise and depoliticise the issue, limiting the ability to address violence in all its manifestations. The article also suggests that paying attention to the details of this attempted incorporation, and its ultimate failure, actually offers us something more important and interesting to think with: it opens the way to new possibilities for the political, and hence for addressing such forms of violence and inequality.

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