Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Celia Rumann


In the years following the Abu Ghraib scandal, it has become apparent that Lynndie England was punished for the crime of providing the world with photographic evidence of a government policy of using sexuality as a weapon of war. Ms. England's actions were not, as has been asserted, borne of whole cloth out of the sexually deviant minds of young soldiers bent on exploiting prisoners for their own amusement. Rather, they embodied the arguably extreme end of the systematic work of the United States government to engage in sexually deviant exploitation of prisoners purportedly for the collective safety and well-being of the American public. This article focuses on those techniques that specifically use gender and sexuality as tools of interrogation. It begins with an examination of the recent history of the use of sexuality and gender by U.S. forces as a tool of war and interrogation to break detainees both at Guantanamo Bay and at other interrogation sites around the world. An examination follows whether these techniques, either in isolation or collectively, violated domestic and international norms relating to the treatment of women. The article examines these questions in four contexts, specifically focusing on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Mann Act, domestic prohibitions and international anti-human trafficking conventions and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.