Forced marriage as a crime against humanity: Problems of definition and prosecution

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Abstract

Forced marriages are a pervasive feature of armed conflicts around the world, such as in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Rwanda and Uganda. Despite forced marriage having been charged and recently affirmed as an international crime before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), courts and commentators have paid little attention to examining its viability as a distinct category of crime in international law. This article analyses the SCSL's characterization of forced marriage as conduct subsumed within the category of other inhumane acts. It isolates the constituent elements of the crime of forced marriage through comparative case studies of Sierra Leone and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The author addresses the issue of whether forced marriage can be distinguished from arranged marriages on the one hand, and sexual slavery on the other, to justify its prosecution as an 'other inhumane act' as part of crimes against humanity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1032
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Criminal Justice
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

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