SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Miss Bilge Sahin

BA MA (Ankara) MA (SOAS)
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Department of Development Studies

Graduate Teaching Assistant (1718)

Miss Bilge Sahin
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Thesis title:
Bringing Justice to the People: Examining International Assistance to the DR Congo’s Judiciary and Its Impacts on Sexual Violence Crimes and Gender Power Relations in North-Kivu
Year of Study:
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Bilge Sahin is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She finished her fieldwork in North-Kivu. She has a BA degree in International Relations from Ankara University, Turkey. Furthermore, she completed an MA degree in African Studies from Ankara University and a second MA degree in International Law at SOAS, University of London. She has also worked for several charities in London to promote women's rights and support women victims of sexual and gender-based crimes.

PhD Research

While sexual violence crimes in conflict have been recognized as inevitable side effects of war and traditionally elicited little response from the international community up until the last decade of the 20th century, the 21st century commenced with a number of resolutions being passed by the United Nations aiming to challenge these crimes. The attention given to sexual violence crimes in conflict specifically in the DRC have led the country being labelled 'the rape capital of the world'. The international community has assumed a number of roles in this regard as countries of the Global North have funded numerous projects that aim to eradicate these crimes in the DRC. These projects are dominated by the idea that the implementation of the rule of law can bring justice to Congolese women by strengthening the Congolese legal system, promoting access to justice for survivors, and enhancing prosecution of perpetrators through mobile hearings which are designed to reach out to survivors in remote areas where many of the crimes are committed.

This thesis aims to explore the impact of international actors on challenging sexual violence crimes in conflict in the eastern DRC. In this regard, firstly, a broad understanding of the notion of violence is provided by gendering Slavoj Žižek's theory on violence which claims that sexual violence crimes are more than the physical acts of violence as they are fed from the unequal gender power relations. Then, this thesis explores whether projects of international actors challenging sexual violence crimes through the rule of law employ these deeper understandings of violence. The main argument is that in order to end sexual violence crimes, violence embedded in gender power relations needs to be challenged in addition to the visible acts of violence. Hence, this thesis will explore whether changes in gender power relations or a transformation of gender performativity is effected by international assistance.  


Sahin, B. and Kula, S. L. (2018) ‘What Women Want before Justice: Examining Justice Initiatives to Challenge Violence against Women in the DRC’, International Journal of Transitional Justice, 0, 1-18.

Sahin, B. (2016) ‘Local Realities and Global Responses: Examining Areas Excluded from Global Initiatives' Responses to Sexual and Gender-based Violence Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, The Public Sphere Journal, LSE African Summit Edition. 

Sahin, B. (2014) ‘What is Happening to Women in Transitional Justice? Analysing the Crime of Rape and its Reconciliation in the ICTR’, Fe Dergi, 6(2),p. 1-13.

Sahin, B. (2014) ‘Adı Konulmamıs Bir Soykirim: Liberya Ic Savasi’, 20. Yuzyilda Soykirim ve Etnik Temizlik, eds Cakmak, C., Guneysu, G. and Colak, F.G., Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi Yayınları, İstanbul. (English Title: An Unknown Genocide: Liberian Civil War).


Violence, Conflict, and Development Workshop, SOAS University of London, London, UK, 16 January 2018. Paper Presented: Justice vs. Violence: The Justice Initiatives on Challenging Sexual Violence Crimes in Armed Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Political Masculinities as Agents of Change Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 9 – 11 December 2016. Paper presented: Asserting ‘Positive Masculinity’ to Fight Sexual and Gender-based Violence Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Fragility and Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo, International Development Committees, Parliament UK, London, 15 November 2016. Witness report presented.

Africa Summit, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London 22-23 April 2016. Paper presented: Local Realities and Global Responses: Examining Areas Excluded from Global Initiatives' Responses to Sexual and Gender-based Violence Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Africa and Global Atlantic World, Kent State University, 7-8 April 2016. Paper presented: Turkish Foreign Policy Engagements in Africa: The Creation of Knowledge and Encounters with the Black Body