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Survival Sex in Peacekeeping Economies

Re-Reading the Zero Tolerance Approach to Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse in United Nations Peace Support Operations

In: Journal of International Peacekeeping
Author: Jena McGill1
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  • 1 Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law 57 Louis Pasteur St, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N6K5 jena.mcgill@uottawa.ca
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This paper investigates the zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers as it relates to survival sex in peacekeeping economies. Understanding the policy as a form of discursive power, the analysis seeks to reveal the effects of zero tolerance by asking: what is obscured about survival sex in peacekeeping economies when it is viewed through the lens of zero tolerance, and to whose benefit? The argument is that zero tolerance is a poor policy framework to address peacekeeper engagement in survival sex because it fails to grapple with the complex set of economic circumstances that give rise to survival sex decision-making by girls and women in peacekeeping economies. In light of the failures of zero tolerance, a rights-based approach to survival sex in peacekeeping economies represents a more promising means of addressing the issue to the benefit of local girls and women.

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