Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: September 1, 2023 - Last updated: September 1, 2023


Author: Hazel Cameron

Title: The Matabeleland Massacres

Subtitle: Britain's wilful blindness

Journal: The International History Review

Volume: 40

Issue: 1

Year: 2018 (Published online: April 10, 2017)

Pages: 1-19

pISSN: 0707-5332 - Find a Library: WorldCat | eISSN: 1949-6540 - Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | African History: Zimbabwean History | Types: Genocidal Rape / Gukurahundi Genocide


- ResearchGate (Free Access)

- St Andrews Research Repository (Free Access)

- Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)


Author: ORCID, ResearchGate

Abstract: »This article explores an episode of post-colonial state violence in the newly independent Zimbabwe, namely state-sanctioned atrocities by the army unit known as Fifth Brigade, perpetrated against the Ndebele of Matabeleland and Midlands region. This episode of political and ethnic violence that occurred between 1983 and 1987 is referred to as both the Matabeleland Massacres and Gukurahundi. Members of the British government in Zimbabwe, which included a British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) on the ground, were intimately aware of the violence that resulted in the death of between 10,000 and 20,000 people. This article analyses official British and US government communications between the British High Commission, Harare, and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defence, London, as well as between the US Department of State and the US Embassy in Harare. Analysis of the documents dated between January and March 1983 sheds a critical new lens on Gukurahundi, establishing what knowledge was available to the British and US governments about the persistent and relentless atrocities taking place; the diplomatic approaches pursued by both governments in response; and their rationale for same. The hitherto unavailable material presented here was obtained by Freedom of Information requests to various British Government offices and to the US Department of State. Analysis establishes that the British High Commission, Harare, had detailed knowledge of events unfolding in Matabeleland from an early stage of Gukurahundi, yet senior members of BMATT and the British diplomatic team in Harare, in contrast to their US counterparts, were consistent in their efforts to minimise the magnitude of Fifth Brigade atrocities. That the British government chose to adopt a policy of wilful blindness towards the atrocities undoubtedly constituted naked realpolitik.« (Source: The International History Review)

  Abstract (p. 1)
  A British Military Advisory Training Team in the newly independent Zimbabwe (p. 3)
  Post-independence tensions: an opportune justification to wipe out ZAPU? (p. 4)
  Gukurahundi and 'the sea in which the enemy fish swim' (p. 5)
  Britain's vested interests in the newly independent Zimbabwe (p. 7)
  Break[ing] the Bodies and Identities of the Community Through the Bodies of the Community (p. 8)
  '[Y]ou have to hand it to the British, they know how to behave in this kind of situation' (p. 14)
  Motives behind the British wilful neglect of Gukurahundi (p. 15)
  Contravening the Norms of Sexuality: Forced Intrafamilial Rape and Bestiality (p. 15)
  A systematic British long-term policy of wilful blindness(p. 15)
  External institutional bystanders and accountability (p. 16)
  Notes (p. 17)

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Zimbabwe | Genocide: Gukurahundi | Sex and the law: Rape / Genocidal rape