New Book: Gendered Experiences of Genocide: Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq

6 04 2011
By Choman Hardi, Senior Associate Member of St Antony’s College, Oxford, UK
April 2011, Ashgate
Between February and September 1988, the Iraqi government destroyed over 2000 Kurdish villages, killing somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 civilians and displacing many more. The operation was codenamed Anfal which literally means ‘the spoils of war’. For the survivors of this campaign, Anfal did not end in September 1988: the aftermath of this catastrophe is as much a part of the Anfal story as the gas attacks, disappearances and life in the camps.
This book examines Kurdish women’s experience of violence, destruction, the disappearance of loved ones, and incarceration during the Anfal campaign. It explores the survival strategies of these women in the aftermath of genocide. By bringing together and highlighting women’s own testimonies, Choman Hardi reconstructs the Anfal narrative in contrast to the current prevaling one which is highly politicised, simplified, and nationalistic. It also addresses women’s silences about sexual abuse and rape in a patriarchal society which holds them responsible for having been a victim of sexual violence.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; The Anfal campaign; Women in detention; Forcibly displaced civilians; Survivors of the gas attacks; Rebuilding life after Anfal: employment, poverty and exploitation; The psychological consequences of mass violence; Learning from women survivors of Anfal; Afterword and personal reflections; References; Index.

Reviews: ‘Gendered Experiences of Genocide is a valuable resource and a compelling account of Saddam Hussein’s war against the Kurds. Dr Hardi’s thorough study illuminates this under-researched subject with clarity and restraint, and her command of the facts and analysis of survivors’ narratives make for gripping reading. It is a must read for anyone interested in gender and genocide.’

Abandoned by the outside world and the international community, these women’s memories are a shuddering cry of desolation. This is a book about murder, suffering, and the illegal and terrible acts of those who had the power to decide the fate of so many. We who listen to and read these stories not only have much to learn from them; we must also strive to ensure that their urgent present day needs are met.’
– Selma Leydesdorff, University of Amsterdam; writer on the voices of the women of Srebrenica

Click to read the introduction

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