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Francesca Mussi

On the main initiative of the former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up in South Africa in 1995 ‘to provide for the investigation and the establishment of as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights committed’ during a 34-year period of apartheid (1960 to 1994). The TRC played a fundamental role in this process of political and social redefinition, by both encouraging perpetrators to come forward, confess and take responsibility for their crimes, and fostering mutual forgiveness between victims and wrongdoers, as the only basis to move on and build a better future. In his memoir about the TRC, No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu explains that ‘in forgiving, people are not being asked to forget’, but, on the contrary, it is really important that people remember, the wrongdoer confesses, and the victim forgives so that the process of reconciliation can begin in South Africa. In this chapter, I discuss how Achmat Dangor challenges the Christian rhetoric of confession/forgiveness which informed the work of the TRC. Given the Commission’s public hearings were held under a banner that read ‘Truth: the road to reconciliation’ – implying that uncovering the truth was the only possible way for victims to forgive perpetrators and begin the process of national-building and reconciliation – I will address the following questions: is it possible to achieve the truth? Who has the right to tell that ‘truth’? Is truth a precondition for forgiveness and reconciliation? Telling a story of personal recovery from trauma and a search of revenge, Dangor’s Bitter Fruit tries to answer the above questions by unsettling the Christian definition of forgiveness, especially in the public context of the TRC’s hearings.


Francesca Mussi


In recent years migration at sea has represented a pressing legal and political issue due to the massive number of migrants involved. The vast majority are women and girls, who move across the borders of the diverse geographical regions despite the dangers related to voyages on old unseaworthy boats, thus contributing to the increase of the so-called “feminisation of migration”. This has led to significant developments in international human rights law and has raised much interest in existing scholarly literature. On the contrary, little attention has so far been paid to the relevance of gender dimension in the context of criminal activities connected to migration at sea, that is to say trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants. In light of the above, the chapter analyses, through a gender perspective, the international legal regimes set out by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, in order to assess whether they are able to effectively address the experiences of women subject to trafficking and smuggling by sea.