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The Expressive Nature of Law: What We Learn from Conjugal Slavery to Forced Marriage in International Criminal Law

In: International Criminal Law Review
Authors:
Annie Bunting Associate Professor of Law and Society, York University; Project Director, Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) Partnership, York University, Toronto, Canada, abunting@yorku.ca

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Izevbuwa Kehinde Ikhimiukor Post-Doctoral Fellow, Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) Partnership, York University, Toronto, Canada, izevbuwaikhimiukor@yahoo.co.uk

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The March 2016 Confirmation of Charges Decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court in Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen characterized the practice of forced conjugal association as the crime against humanity of ‘other inhumane acts’. This decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber comes amidst an unsettled jurisprudence on the legal characterization of the practice of forced conjugal association. The unsettled nature of the jurisprudence has led to inconsistencies in the legal characterization of forced conjugal association as either forced marriage as an ‘other inhumane act’ or sexual slavery, a variant of the general rubric of slavery. Accordingly, this article analyses the expressive effects of the labelling by contemporary international criminal courts and tribunals of forced conjugal association as either forced marriage as an ‘other inhumane act’ or slavery.

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