The Gender of Occupation

International law scholars and policy makers have paid little attention to the gendered dimensions of living under occupation. Gender considerations have generally been at the margins of doctrinal and policy analysis. Feminist legal scholars have also largely ignored the legal effects of occupation law and practice on the regulation of women and girl’s lives including the gendered consequences of experiencing long-term, exceptional and transformative occupations. This article sets out how the rules governing occupation were not constructed with needs and experiences of women and girls at the forefront. It documents the effects of transformative occupations on women’s lives with a particular emphasis on how the lacunae in protection under the Hague and Geneva Conventions results in profound and sustained human rights and humanitarian law violations for women and girls, across a range of fundamental rights and protections. The historical and doctrinal analysis is complimented by a case study focused on Israel-Palestine, and particularly pertinent in the context of ongoing concerns about annexation of this occupied territory. The context specific analysis illustrates the gendered dimensions of occupation in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular demonstrating that the needs of, and harms experienced by, women living under sustained occupation have been underreported and underrepresented. The documentation of legal gaps underscores the need for revision and reinterpretation of occupation law through a gendered lens, underscoring the obligations of belligerent occupiers to ensure the protection of women in the context of armed conflict.