Gendering the Law of Occupation: The Case of Cyprus

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Abstract: The long-term occupation of Northern Cyprus provides some valuable insights into the gendered dimensions of the law of occupation. Specifically, close analysis of conflict-related patterns of sexual violence, the regulation of family relationships, and the challenge of sexual trafficking allows for a broader reassessment of the extent to which occupation law is ‘fit for purpose’ specifically as it regulates long-term transformative occupations. The law of occupation, in its original conceptualization, was assumed to have a short-term and utilitarian function, designed for the protection of land and people until the disputed territory was returned to its rightful sovereign. Long-term and belligerent territorial control of occupied territory has meant expanded patterns of exclusions and under-enforcement of law for women, and in particular illustrates the opaque under-regulation of the private sphere under occupation, generally to the detriment of women’s protection and entitlements. This article exposes those gendered tensions with a focus on one case-study but with broader reach to multiple sites of occupation.

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