This two-part project explores key political, ethical and methodological challenges involved in the production of politically actionable knowledge about conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence in Sri Lanka. It analyses the challenges of gathering information safely in a heavily militarised and closely monitored environment, investigates the ways in which the protocols and textual strategies adopted to negotiate these constraints complicate the domestic and international reception of the reporting, particularly as these are read through the lens of the political divisions and mistrust that characterise Sri Lanka’s partial and now stalled “transition”.
In its second, and inter-related part, the project explores how these same, and closely related, politico-epistemological challenges have been handled by those international initiatives and organisations – primarily but not only the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative – that have supported (or responded to) research and advocacy on conflict-related sexual violence in Sri Lanka, particularly with respect to accountability and reparations. As part of this, the project will look at how this support – and the larger international architecture of reporting and accountability on conflict-related SGBV – has been experienced by local civil society organisations, particularly those made up of and/or working closely with victims and survivors, in the hopes of gaining an improved understanding of how women’s and civil society groups’ experience of transitional justice interventions by international agencies and NGOs are affected by differential power relations and limited transparency.
In addition to publications on each of these two parts of the project, outputs will include evidence for policy reform and Sinhala and Tamil translations of policy papers.
Alan Keenan, International Crisis Group