Monica McWilliams – What difference does conflict or peace make for women? #feile15

Monica McWilliams wearing Barra McGrory glassesPower works through dominion, but it also works through dependence … [yet] power can be changed.

Wearing DDP Barra McGrory’s glasses until her own were located, Prof Monica McWilliams delivered a lecture this evening in St Mary’s University College on Conflict or Peace: What difference does it make for women? as part of Féile an Phobail.

The academic and former Human Rights Commissioner highlighted instances of violence and discrimination against women in conflicts around the world, including Northern Ireland.

The accessibility of guns in NI is reflected in the most prominent method of spousal homicide in contrast with the most common methods in England and Wales.

Monica recalled visiting an NI prison – in the late 1990s – and “running the gauntlet” of porn images on the walls of prison staff areas over the heads of the female secretarial staff.

Monica McWilliamsThe targeting of ‘trophy’ women, spousal abuse and homicide, rape by state and paramilitary forces: a catalogue of despicable, inhumane – and sadly in some cases – continuing abuses.

What goes on during a war can continue to happen after the war is declared over.

The law often fails to support victims, particularly women. Rape is not mentioned in the Geneva Conventions. Only recently has the cessation of rape been written into ceasefire agreements.

In the conclusion of her talk, Monica asked what justice looks like for victims of intimate violence? What does it look like for those who form no part of the decision-making after a conflict and in the making of the peace?

Monica McWilliams - the power cube

Monica McWilliams raising awareness in Uganda