Rape, war and the abject in Halima Bashir’s Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

  • Nick Mdika Tembo
Keywords: Bearing witness, wartime rape, ethnic cleansing, the abject, maternal body


Halima Bashir’s Tears of the Desert, a memoir co-authored with journalist Damien Lewis, has received critical acclaim for exposing the atrocities that the government of Sudan commits, by proxy, against African animists, Christians and Muslims in the Darfur region in western Sudan. In this article, I examine how Bashir bears witness to the use of wartime rape as a weapon for ethnic cleansing. Drawing on Julia Kristeva’s theorisation of the “abject” and on discourse on wartime rape by, among others, Catharine MacKinnon and Ruth Seifert, the article explores the precarious position of women and girls in warzones, highlighting the ways in which the maternal (and feminine) body is used as a site/sight of group struggles.

Keywords: Bearing witness; wartime rape; ethnic cleansing; the abject; maternal body


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1016-0728