Tusty ten Bensel, an assistant professor from UA Little Rock Criminal Justice department, said that acts of sexual violence in Sierra Leone were isolated incidents before the civil war and that the acts increased as a “byproduct of war,” influenced by each army’s leader.
“I don’t think we can ever eliminate sexual violence during conflict but we can decrease it. And for us to effectively do that, we have to understand why [and] how it occurs,” ten Bensel said.
Her talk about the occurrence of sexual violence in Sierra Leone during the civil war was one of three presentations featured at the lecture “Arkansas, Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone: Race, Ethnicity, and Violence in a Global Perspective.”
The other two presenters were Guy Lancaster, editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, who spoke about sundown towns in Arkansas, and Emil Kerenji, an applied researcher from the Holocaust Memorial Museum, who offered an excerpt from his work titled, “Ethnic Space and Genocide in Twentieth Century Southeastern Europe: From the Balkan Wars of the 1910 to the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.”
This lecture was organized by the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity as part of its effort to connect UA Little Rock to people working on issues of race and ethnicity. The speakers were hand-picked by the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity’s Director John Kirk. Kirk said the theme, which was presented to him by the Jack Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, helped him decide who to contact about the lecture.
“I used the people that I know on campus and off campus who are local and are working on those things, and identified them as people who’d be useful to compliment the speakers who were coming in from the holocaust museum,” Kirk said.
After the lecture, attendees were offered refreshments and the opportunity to chat with the speakers individually. Kirk said that he hoped the lecture inspired attendees to continue the conversation about global violence.
“I hope it’s the beginning of ideas and themes… It’s an interesting start to think about how these things intertwine, not just in Arkansas, not just locally, but also nationally and internationally as well. So hopefully we’ll continue that ongoing conversation on peoples’ consciousness, that you know, these questions are worldwide and they are important things to discuss both locally at state level, regionally, nationally, and internationally,” he said.