Rebel governance of marriage and sexuality: an intersectional approach

Keshab Giri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extant research links forced marriage and sexual violence in rebel groups with their respective political projects, social control, and group cohesion. However, forced marriage and sexual violence are rare in many rebel groups, including the Maoists in Nepal who claimed to have a "progressive,""scientific,"and "modern"framework for governing marriage and sexuality. In the light of this puzzle, I ask, what does a noncoercive/nonviolent rebel governance of marriage and sexuality mean for a rebel group's political project of social control and power? What is the gendered impact of such governance? Importantly, how does it impact female combatants at the intersection of multiple oppressions? Using abductive analysis of extensive interviews with female ex-combatants and their leaders, I build a theoretical explanation about the noncoercive/nonviolent governance of marriage and sexuality that is not just linked to the formation, consolidation, and legitimation of political agendas, but also enabled social control and political power for the Maoists. However, this further marginalized those female combatants who were already disadvantaged. I employ a feminist intersectional framework while critically reflecting on my own positionality. The implications of these findings extend beyond Nepal, illuminating dynamics of rebel governance and the complexity of war and postwar social organization.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbersqad028
JournalInternational Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023


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