The use of rape was common during the 1971 war in Bangladesh. Six days after the war ended, the new government publicly declared that any woman raped in the war was a birangona or ‘war heroine’. There exists a public memory of wartime rape through various literary, visual and testimonial forms, ensuring that the raped woman endures as an iconic figure. However, women’s experiences of wartime sexual violence are often explained through the limited lenses of silence, voice, shame, honour, gender, patriarchy, stigma, trauma and ostracisation, which help to create the figure of the horrific raped woman – meaning that birangonas are often assumed to have a horrific life trajectory. This can undermine the very resilience that characterises many of the women who were raped. In contrast, this chapter focuses on generative resilience, as offering a different narrative of sexual violence that emphasises women’s abilities to continue to live with and pass on the experiences of sexual violence in ways that are uniquely relational. It is this contextualised and social ecological understanding of resilience that needs to inform adaptive peacebuilding, in order to foster a nuanced understanding of the effects of rape as a weapon of war.
Mookherjee, N. (2021). Graphic Ethnography and Generative Resilience of Sexual Violence in Conflict of the Birangonas (War-heroines) in Bangladesh. In J. Clark, & M. Ungar (Eds.), Resilience, Adaptive Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice: How Societies Recover after Collective Violence. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108919500.007