WAR and RAPE: A DIGEST OF REFERENCED ARTICLES
On Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict: Unparalleled military violence
against women at the dawn of  the third millennium
Prepared by: Janet M. Eaton, PhD, February 8, 2000

INTRODUCTION

Although "sexual violence in armed conflict", is the term employed in
official documentation to describe an array of  military offenses against
women and girls across all conflict zones, the following digest is called
"War & Rape" to emphasize the ultimate military crime against women.
Designed for Internet use, the War & Rape Digest consists of excerpts from
URL referenced news releases and articles posted to the Global Sisterhood
Network [GSN] Listserv.   [ http//www.onelist.com/archive/GSN ]

Condemned by individual governments and the United Nations as the most
widely reviled abuse of women's human rights [Digest #1],  military sexual
atrocities against women continue unabated at the dawn of the third
millenium.


Fifty years after the universal declaration on human rights assured that
the atrocities of world war II would never again be repeated,  these
violent and abhorrent war crimes stand as a shameful indictment of male
militarized violence against women at this period in history. And in a
climate where militarism, fundamentalism and neo-liberalism turn a blind
eye to human rights and have contributed to the expansion of  armed
conflict around the world, the fear of sexual violence dominates the life
of every woman living in today's war zones.

Feminists identify rape as a systemic, historical and patriarchal construct
of war.   Starhawk [Digest #7] has shown that throughout history, rape has
been an omnipresent aspect of militarism, and  to this day, basic military
training establishes women as targets for sexual conquer. This endemic
sexual violence against women in conflict zones reflects an ingrained
misogyny which views women as the "spoils of war",  whether for satisfying
the sexual appetites of the troops, destroying the community pride of the
vanquished, punishing women who have resisted their conquerors, or as part
of an overall strategy of  genocide.

It is unconscionable that such horrendous atrocities  have been hidden from
mainstream world view until the last decade of the 20th century.  This War
& Rape Digest aims to increase public awareness of  these heinous war
crimes against women, primarily to encourage a groundswell demanding an end
to this insidious military sexual violence. . Indeed as  the Ambassador at
Large for War Crimes Issues points out [ Digest #4 ], "With the continued
determination by all of us  as individuals to raise awareness and ensure
the protections against these evil acts, we can guide the course of history
and permanently provide equal status and equal punishment for crimes
against women".

"Seattle" has clearly demonstrated that we live at a turning point in
history when raising united voices can make a difference.  In fact one
might  say, in the words of acclaimed author and activist Arundhati Roy,
that  "Silence is indefensible"  !!

Please forward, print and post wherever you see fit!
With appreciation,  Janet.

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INDEX
1] http://www.hrw.org/wr2k/Wrd.htm#TopOfPage
Women's Human Rights
>From http://www.hrw.org/wr2k/
Human rights Watch World Report 2000

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2] http://www.onelist.com/messages/GSN?archive=509
WORLD WAR III AND THE GLOBAL EXPANSION OF OBSCENITIES AGAINST WOMEN: A
Personal Statement of Outrage at the End of the Millennium.
Women Against Violence, Issue No. 1, January, 2000.
By: Dr. Lynette Dumble, Associate Senior Research Fellow, History and
Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic., 3052,
AUSTRALIA. International coordinator of the Global Sisterhood Network

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3] http://www.thelancet.com/newlancet/sub/issues/vol354no9195/menu_NOD999.html
Breaking the silence surrounding rape
THE LANCET, Volume 354,  11 December, 1999

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4] http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/17296
Rape As A War Crime
Remarks, Fordham University
New York, October 29, 1999
By: David J. Scheffer
Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues

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5]  http://www.africanews.org/women/stories/19991010_feat1.html
Luwero woman raped 21 times
The Monitor (Kampala), October 10, 1999
By: Isabirye Musoke

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6] http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/11393
Rape as a weapon of war
INDEPENDENT (London) May 10
By: NATASHA WALTER -
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7] http://www.onelist.com/messages/GSN?archive=446
Starhawk on War & Rape
Excerpts from Starhawk's book "Truth or Dare - Encounters with Power,
Authority and Mystery" that describe the patriarchal origins and context of
war. Provided by Dr. Viviane Lerner.

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DIGEST
1] http://www.hrw.org/wr2k/Wrd.htm#TopOfPage
Women's Human Rights
>From http://www.hrw.org/wr2K/
Human rights Watch World Report 2000

INTRODUCTION:

Events in 1999 provided clear evidence that, with the rise of civil
conflicts in which civilians are often the primary targets, women's rights
are ever more at risk. Despite significant gains in securing international
condemnation of the horrors typically visited on women in conflict zones,
assaults on women were used as a weapon of war in every conflict waged in
1999. ...For women coping with conflict and its aftermath, 1999 was a
crossroads. On the one hand, women's human rights activists made real
progress in securing mechanisms for vindicating women's human rights.

Building on the gains of the International Criminal Court with its strong
prohibitions against gender-specific violence, activists won states'
agreement in March to create a means for women to report specific human
rights violations to the United Nations, with the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW). Following the first conviction for rape at the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), prosecutors brought additional rape
charges against senior Rwandan political and military figures. Overall,
sexual violence against female civilians in conflict was perhaps the most
widely reviled abuse of women's human rights, acknowledged and denounced by
governments and U.N. officials alike.

At the same time, improvements in the standards for protecting women's
human rights made no difference for women in many countries, perhaps in
part because the gains were new, but also because protecting women from
abuses was rarely a priority. As conflicts raged around the globe, violence
against women remained a weapon of combatants. In Sierra Leone rebel forces
dragged women into sexual slavery, raping them repeatedly and compelling
them to cook and clean for their abusers. U.N. High Commissioner for Human
Rights Mary Robinson reported evidence of well-planned attacks, including
rape, on civilians in East Timor. In various conflicts, women were raped,
then killed. Others faced permanent injuries and long-term health risks,
especially the threat of HIV/AIDS.

The violence that drove women into flight across borders or within their
own countries plagued them as they sought refuge-a fact that the
international community addressed only in fits and starts in 1999. From
refugee camps around the world, women reported both sexual and domestic
violence. Refugee women were often doubly vulnerable, confronting both
their own dislocation and lack of support as well as host country policies
that downplayed violence against women, regardless of the victim's
nationality. In March 1999, the office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) took a stronger stand in promoting gender
equality in its work. Its announced strategy included consulting refugee
women about their immediate needs, implementing programs to prevent and
respond to violence against women, and recognizing gender-based persecution
as grounds for asylum.

Neglect of women's rights continued after conflicts ceased and refugees
returned home. Reconstruction efforts in Bosnia and Rwanda, for example,
included discrete-and underfunded-programs for women, while failing utterly
to address women's human rights in their overall programs. Despite years of
decrying the exclusion of women from security and reconstruction efforts,
women's rights activists saw their concerns downplayed in the agenda of
world leaders attempting to forge a Balkans stability pact...

Human Rights Developments
Violence against Women in Conflict

Women's rights were in particular jeopardy during times of armed conflict.
During these periods, judicial structures that, according to the law,
should both prevent violence against women and respond to it were in
disarray, could not be relied on and, in some cases, were controlled by the
very people who were instigating or participating in rapes. In every civil
conflict in recent memory-including East Timor, Afghanistan, Angola,
Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Mexican state of Chiapas, Algeria,
Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo-women were targeted for sexual
violence. One of the most promising developments of 1999 was that important
international actors such as the United Nations successfully identified
gender-specific abuses committed against women at the start of conflicts,
rather than not at all or only once those conflict were long over, as had
been the pattern in the past. This early recognition, however, was still
not matched by vigorous investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of
rape, tasks that were often left to post-conflict national authorities.

Only in the last decade-as illustrated most clearly by the internal
conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda-was the argument that rape is merely an
unavoidable excess of war discredited. Still, the international community
was able to do very little to prevent sexual violence in conflict. In fact,
combatants defied international standards prohibiting rape and, in some
cases, made sexual assault a deliberate weapon. As a consequence, in 1999
many women were treated as reward for soldiers, targeted for forced
marriage and domestic labor, and attacked as substitutes for their male
relatives or as symbols of communities' honor and reproductive capacity.

For example, in Sierra Leone women faced severe sexual abuse in that
country's eight-year civil war, mainly at the hands of Revolutionary United
Front (RUF) rebel forces. In January 1999, ruf rebels launched an offensive
against the capital, Freetown, temporarily capturing it from government
troops and the soldiers of the Nigerian-led peacekeeping force. During this
attack, RUF rebels detained women at base camps, raped them daily for
weeks, and forced them to cook and clean for rebel leaders. Some rebels
claimed individual women as their "wives," thereby gaining exclusive sexual
access to them.

In Serbia's attack on Kosovo, paramilitaries entered the homes of ethnic
Albanians and raped women and girls in front of their families or outside
in their gardens. Some paramilitaries told women that they were expected to
commit rapes as part of the campaign of ethnic cleansing. An unknown number
of women and girls died after these attacks. In other instances...Serb
paramilitaries subjected an unknown number of women to gang rapes in
forests, in trucks, or along the road. They held women captive for periods
ranging from twenty minutes to several days. .. Women reported that the men
committing the rapes generally wore camouflage uniforms and black masks
covering their faces. While it appears that paramilitaries committed most
of the rapes, Human Rights Watch also documented at least two cases in
which regular Serb soldiers committed rape.

In Algeria, although women were not being targeted for sexual violence
because they belonged to a certain ethnic group, they were targeted for
their beliefs, those beliefs imputed to them, or those held by their male
family members. Algerian women were in danger of sexual assault and other
violence by militant Islamist groups. This ongoing threat was grounded in
years of efforts by these extremist groups to circumscribe women's freedom
in order to demonstrate their power in society. Ever since 1992 when
elections were canceled, these groups had intimidated, threatened, and
assaulted women for inappropriate dress or behavior. They also slaughtered,
kidnapped, raped, and
enslaved them. Incidents were also reported in which the security forces,
in their efforts to quash these militant Islamist groups, tortured and
raped women to coerce male alleged members of these groups to turn
themselves in or to extract information from the women about male family
members' whereabouts....

Part of the reason that rape against women in conflict situations remained
so persistent was that governments consistently failed to hold perpetrators
accountable post-conflict..

Women raped in conflict had to contend not only with post-conflict impunity
for what happened to them, but also with the dire health consequences of
rape. In addition to psychological trauma, physical injuries, and sexually
transmitted diseases, sexually abused women faced hiv infection, a
potential death sentence, especially in countries in which health care and
medicine were scant. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence
flared up again in August 1998, and in Sierra Leone's civil war, armed
groups raped women and girls, in some cases infecting them with hiv. Some
of these women died of aids in 1999. Others discovered their infection with
little hope of treatment...
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2] http://www.onelist.com/messages/GSN?archive=509
WORLD WAR III AND THE GLOBAL EXPANSION OF OBSCENITIES AGAINST WOMEN: A
Personal Statement of Outrage at the End of the Millennium.
Women Against Violence, Issue No. 1, January, 2000.
By: Dr. Lynette Dumble, Associate Senior Research Fellow, History and
Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic., 3052,
AUSTRALIA. International coordinator of the Global Sisterhood Network

BACKGROUND

Following the massacre of 14 women students at the Ecole Polytechnique in
Montreal, Canada, on December 6, 1989, November 25 was established as an
International Day to oppose Violence Against Women, but despite this and
other world-wide campaigns of recent years, men's violence against the
world's women still causes more deaths and disability among females aged
15-44 years than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war put together.

On the eve of the third millennium, half a century after the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights, the world is witness to unprecedented
violences against women and their children. No region is innocent when it
comes to violence which undermines women's physical and mental security; no
single country has eradicated rape, not one is devoid of domestic violence,
few are free of the cultural violences which subordinate women... Overall,
the 1990s has amounted to a decade of violence against women, justifiably
referred to as World War III, and was a period in which women more than
lost out in terms of their human rights, development, and realization of
their maximum potential...

MILITARY MISOGYNY
Over past decades, human rights activists have come to understand that
systematic rape, sexual slavery, and the torture of "women of colour",
became weapons to crush the spirit of the vanquished in military conflict.

In the 1990s, reports of Caucasian women raped until they were pregnant,
and detained until it was too late to have an abortion, has brought
international attention to military rape, but similar brutalities have
occurred over decades on Australia's back doorstep in East Timor and other
regions of the Indonesian archipelago, all while successive Australian
governments were bipartisanly complicit with Jakarta's genocide. According
to a 1999 report released by Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy, the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, rape has been systematically
used by Indonesia's militia in East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya. In the
early years following the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, orphanages
were filled with traditional orphans, but over time became home to mixed
race children born of women raped by Indonesian soldiers. According to
Sister Maria from one Catholic orphanage lying on a lonely northern coastal
road of East Timor, "The woman's own suffering is an afterthought in a war
between men. One young woman I knew had four babies, I kept asking her why
this had happened again and she just said there was nothing she could do".
Sister Maria's own whereabouts are presently unknown following the burning
of Dili and incidents which saw the massacre of religious women and men.

...Military violence against women is tragically endemic across a vast
number of regions, Afghanistan, Angola, Bissau, Bosnia, Burundi, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Guinea, Kosovo, Kashmir, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Tibet to name but
a few, ravaged by present day political instability and civil unrest. Women
and their children make up the majority of today's military refugees, many
devastated for life by sexual abuse and/or rape, and most condemned to live
the remainder of their days deprived of basic rights...

In Tibet, a nation where women formerly enjoyed greater equality with men
than their Asian neighbors, woman have been at the forefront of the
nonviolent struggle for independence since China's 1959 invasion. In the
1990s, half of the organized protests by Tibetans, now a minority within
their own land, against the Peoples Republic of China have been led by
Buddhist nuns, but during that time thousands of Tibetan women have been
arrested, incarcerated, sexually abused, tortured, and publicly executed.

In the Balkans conflict which raged in Bosnia, the world remained virtually
silent while women and their daughters were systematically raped, arguably
to damage the Moslem family structure in the region, while the rape of
Kosovar and Serb women during the NATO war took second place as global
governance counted the number of missing men amidst this chapter of
European ethnic cleansing, leaving little doubt that military rape was
destined to survive as an implement of war in the third millennium...

In Afghanistan, where a 20 year war has killed or incapacitated the male
breadwinners of somewhere between 60 and 100 thousand households in Kabul
alone, women and their daughters have been subjected to an obscene reign of
terror since the group known as the Taliban took control of the country in
1996.

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3] http://www.thelancet.com/newlancet/sub/issues/vol354no9195/menu_NOD999.html
Breaking the silence surrounding rape
THE LANCET, Volume 354,  11 December, 1999

Nov 25 was International Day Against Violence Against Women. It was marked
by various activities worldwide, and was the first day of the "Take a
Stand" movement in South Africa.. speaking out against all forms of sexual
violence.

But in other regions of the world where society has completely broken down,
rape, mainly of women, is an integral part of war. Rape and sexual assault
have always been used as weapons of war but this aspect of the history of
conflict has not been accorded a high profile. There are many reasons for
this silence, including difficulty in quantifying the extent of such
violence, but it is not unreasonable to suspect that a major reason has
been that rape in war has been considered insignificant. Indeed, it is only
in recent years that sexual atrocities committed during armed conflict have
been brought to the attention of the general public, largely as a result of
advances in communication technology. Media coverage of the use of rape in
the wars in Bosnia and Rwanda made such atrocities difficult to ignore.

Nevertheless, it took persistent pressure from non-governmental
organisations to ensure that sexual violence was  considered by the bodies
investigating the genocide.[2]  In the wake of  these atrocities, much has
been written about how rape is used to undermine and humiliate the enemy in
conflict situations, but, as the late human-rights activist André Sibomana
noted, the violence in Rwanda was not even limited to the opposing side.

"FAR [the Rwandan Armed Forces] soldiers and interahamwe militia carried
out rape on a large scale. For some, it was part of a political strategy:
rape was one more step in the process of humiliating a Tutsi family. Many
women were raped in front of their family, then killed with them. But for
most of the perpetrators, I think it was just another form of delinquency,
like theft or looting. Because it was not only Tutsi women who were victims
of rape; many young Hutu women were also subjected to this violence."[3 ]

The horrors in Bosnia and Rwanda have nevertheless marked a turning point
in how war rape is viewed. In 1996, sexual assault was cited as a crime
against humanity for the first time, by the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia. And in 1998, the International Tribunal for
Rwanda found Jean-Paul Akayesu guilty of genocide and crimes against
humanity; for the first time, an international court found rape to be an
act of genocide.[4] There are signs, therefore, that rape, whether during
wartime or not, is starting to be taken seriously by the international
community. At a forum in London, UK, on Nov 25, organised by the women's
human-rights charity, WOMANKIND Worldwide, speakers who have helped women
who have been raped in conflict and non-conflict situations described the
enormous difficulties they face in working on prevention in general and in
providing aid to women who have been sexually assaulted...

..It is timely to reflect on whether the medical community is doing enough
to lend its voice to those who abhor sexual violence and to provide
sensitive and appropriate help to women who have been assaulted. Sarah
Ramsay
The Lancet, London WC1X 8RR, UK

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4] http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/17296
Rape As A War Crime
Remarks, Fordham University
New York, October 29, 1999
By: David J. Scheffer
Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues

As we prepare to embark on a new millennium and chart a course toward a
stronger world built on peace, security and a healthy respect for the rule
of law, it is appropriate that we reflect and take stock of where we are in
the advancement of international humanitarian law.

As Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, I have to focus on conflicts
and related atrocities across the globe.  My work requires me to meet with
victims and survivors who are traumatized, demoralized, and weak. As a
result I have traveled to many war zones and have seen the abominable
effects of war be it in Sudan or Kosovo, Sierra Leone or Cambodia.  An
integral component of each crisis is the systematic attack against a
civilian population.

Canvassing the globe, what becomes clear, regardless of the internal or
international, character of the conflict, is that no one is safe..  And
nowhere is this more apparent than it is in attacks committed against
women.  Uniformly, these crimes are becoming more blazoned and more
horrific in their character and commission.  It is almost as if the
attackers are boldly defying and challenging the acceptable moral standards
set by humankind and daring anyone to take action even as they threaten
escalated inhumanity if outside forces intervene in any way or begin to
record the crimes committed.  But fortunately, the tide is turning.

In the past, as many in this room are all too aware, rape and acts of
sexual violence against women went unrecognized and unchallenged.  In many
conflicts, some soldiers, perpetrators, and world leaders viewed rape as a
fringe benefit of war, an unspoken perk.  While some observers have
dismissed incidents of rape, with the reason that men, or as so often seen,
boys, simply get out of hand or out of control after a rough day on the
battlefield, recent history has shown that organized, systematic patterns
of rape are a component of deliberate ethnic cleansing.  The world
community, on occasion, ignored the truth that these acts are not simply
acts of recklessness, but acts of torture.

Fortunately, thanks in large part to the noble effort of many in this room,
today we have a new weapon:  THE LAW.   Specifically defined prohibitions
against rape evolved against the backdrop of its all too frequent use as a
weapon of war .. The crime of rape has long existed under customary
international law. [but] Rape was lost in the barbarous mass of the overall
crimes.  It became a passing reference in a tale of horror. In the end, no
one knew whether rape in time of conflict could be prosecuted as a separate
substantive crime standing on its own merits
under international law.....

But today, we find ourselves in an enormously stronger position to
investigate, document, and prosecute rape and other forms of sexual
violence.  Rape and sexual violence now have a firm foothold as
specifically enumerated offenses under international humanitarian law. This
cementing began in 1993 and 1994 after rape, and sexual violence, was
specifically codified for the first time as a recognizable and independent
crime within the statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the
Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR). These two historic
international instruments are now the foundation upon which crimes of rape
and sexual violence are punished.

As a result, there is now solid caselaw holding that rape and sexual
violence are a form of genocide.  The ICTY and ICTR cases have also
reinforced the legal basis for arguing that rape and sexual violence are
individual crimes against humanity, and also constitute violations of the
laws and customs of war...

We are living in a world that continues to see abhorrent behavior.  In
Kosovo and Rwanda, women and girls are still reeling from the aftermath of
having been herded and sexually violated in manners that shock the
conscience of civilized humans.  In places like East Timor and Sierra
Leone, we are learning the full extent of the horror a vulnerable
population can experience.  The violence has too often been widespread and
the crimes horrendous.....

At the end of the day, the nations of the world must face the cruel reality
of our present situation.  I believe that with the effective use of
international humanitarian law and a continued determination by all of us
as individuals to raise awareness and ensure the protections against these
evil acts, we can guide the course of  history and permanently provide
equal status and equal punishment for crimes against women.  Thank you.

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5] http://www.africanews.org/women/stories/19991010_feat1.html
Luwero woman raped 21 times
The Monitor (Kampala), October 10, 1999
By Isabirye Musoke
Kampala - A woman in Luwero district has told researchers that she was
raped 21 times by soldiers of deposed president Milton Obote. The testimony
is contained in a research report, Women's Experiences Of Armed Conflict In
Uganda- Luwero District 1980 - 1986. The project was resourced by
ISIS-WICCE, a locally-based international women resource centre, and funded
by Heinrich Boll Foundation, a German NGO.

The report says that an analysis of all the cases of rape, indicated that
in most cases women were raped by more than one man at a time or over
several times. Of all cases reported, the maximum number of soldiers raping
one woman was 21 on different occasions. The maximum number of soldiers
reported to have raped a woman at one time was 15 soldiers.

The incidence of gang rape was high during the war and was done to all
females including young children, the report noted. Some women reported
rape ordeals lasting up to three hours, the study noted. An unidentified
woman said: "Six soldiers found me hiding in a bush and raped me one after
another starting with the one who seemed to be the commander. This lasted
for about three hours. The last one closed my legs barking at me in
kiswahili 'we mushenzi lala hapo' [you fool lie here']. I could not even
talk. My relatives discovered me later soaked in blood, urine, faeces and
men's semen."

"I was torn everywhere and developed backache. Before I had recovered, I
was again gang raped at a military checkpoint (road-block). This time I was
raped by 15 soldiers. This left me shattered. I was once again torn to an
extent that I could not control my biological functions. The cervix was
dislocated and the uterus started hanging out..

...The report notes that women who had been traumatised by the war had been
afraid to talk about their experiences even to close relatives, for fear of
scaring away their spouses, as well as being despised and rejected. "By not
speaking out about their war ordeals they had developed mental and
psychiatric disorders," the report notes.

Copyright © 1999 The Monitor - Kampala. Distributed via Africa News Online
(www.africanews.org).

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6] http://www.flora.org/flora.mai-not/11393
Rape as a weapon of war
INDEPENDENT (London) May 10
By: NATASHA WALTER -

"They came into the village and put everyone in a warehouse. They took 20
women for two days and two nights during which they were raped continuously
and then returned to the warehouse half-dead." So spoke one witness of the
actions of Serb soldiers that took place recently in Kosovo.

Such tales are harrowing. But they are not unique. The use of rape as a
weapon of war has been documented down the centuries and throughout the
world. It is a common feature of war against a civilian population, and of
political or ethnic persecution. During the occupation of Nanking in 1937,
Japanese troops were reported to have raped thousands of women. During the
battle for Bangladeshi independence in 1971, Pakistani troops were reported
to have raped more than 200,000 Bengali women. For Americans in the Vietnam
War, it was a routine method of demonstrating their contempt for the people
of Vietnam. But although it is one of the commonest features of
20th-century brutality, it has also been one of the most hidden.

In Bosnia, women supported other women to speak out about their rapes to
counsellors, journalists and lawyers, in the attempt to lift the lid off
women's hidden suffering and to bring their rapists to justice. And today
such tales are heard not just from women fleeing the violence in the
Balkans, but from women fleeing political and ethnic persecution all over
the world.....

It may be common, but for every woman who experiences rape, it is a unique
experience: uniquely terrifying; uniquely traumatic. Last week, I went to
a meeting at the House of Commons organised by Women Against Rape and
Black Women's Rape Action Project. I will never forget the women who stood
up to give their testimonies about what had happened in their home
countries and why they were applying for asylum here. Speaker after
speaker, often with tears running down their faces, described what it
meant to them to struggle to a place of safety. "When I say the word
rape," said one tall Kenyan woman, with tears standing in her eyes, who
had been raped as part of her torture while held in police detention for
political activities, "I hope that every woman in this room will think
about what it means. I can stand here today, but it took me nearly seven
years to talk about my experiences." .....

But the way that the British government responds to female refugees who
have experienced rape is exactly the same as the way it responds to most
refugees - it harasses them, forces them into desperate poverty, detains
them, and even deports them.....

Up until now, the record of this government in dealing with refugees who
are rape survivors has been appalling - one of its greatest humanitarian
failures. While other countries, such as Canada and Australia, have
gender-specific guidelines for processing asylum claims, including the
provision of female interviewers for female refugees, and training on the
specific persecution that women face, this country has never put in place
any such measures. ....And now the way that refugees who are rape survivors
will be treated by the government will become infinitely worse. .....

"If the bill had been in place by the time I arrived in Britain," said
Sharon*, "I would have been deported three years ago to the place where I
had been raped and tortured."  Joanne* said  "When this bill goes through,
I think many, many women will be killed."
* fictitious names

Women Against Rape, Black Women's Rape Action Project, 230a Kentish Town
Road, London NW5, 0171-482 2496
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7] http://www.onelist.com/messages/GSN?archive=446
Starhawk on War & Rape
Excerpts from Starhawk's book "Truth or Dare - Encounters with Power,
Authority and Mystery" that describe the patriarchal origins and context of
war. Provided by Dr. Viviane Lerner.

Great soldiers are those who would rather die than be thought cowards.
Clearly, the personality of such a soldier cannot be structured around a
conviction of his immanent worth. Such obedience can come only from a
fundamental insecurity about one own's value, an uneasiness so deep that
obedience and even death seem a small price to pay for an assurance of
one's value.  Patriarchy creates that insecurity, making manhood and
womanhood into qualities that have to be achieved. [...]

A "real woman," then becomes defined as one who is also willing to obey, To
train her children in obedience, to offer her children up to war. She, too,
must be made insecure.

The ideology of warfare is founded on contempt for women. The gulf between
women and men that establishes men's superior status is used to keep men
striving to be unlike women, and hence, good soldiers. "Woman," in fact,
becomes a dirty word, an insult to be hurled at one who fails to act like a
"real man." "When one does not sufficiently act like a man in military
training, the drill instructor may bark, 'What's the matter, girl?' Or a
foul description of a part of a woman will be used. It is as if the next
thing worse to The Enemy is a woman." The denigration of women is an
inherent part of basic military training today: ..

At the same time as women are denigrated, they become the prizes of war.
The real situation of women in a militaristic male-dominant culture becomes
one of continual insecurity.  For women to become the sexual rewards of men,
they must be removed from positions of power. [...]

Although we like to think of rape as an aberration of war, as something
only the enemy does, rape has been an omnipresent aspect of warfare in all
times. In the ancient world, rape was the normal, expected reward of a
victorious army, and some of the fruit of battle were the captured women
who could be brought home to serve as slaves and concubines. [...]

Mass rape may have been adopted as a deliberate tactic to devalue women and
undermine the older, matristic values. Men who could use enemy women as
objects began to see women of their own people as objects. Rape as a weapon
of war contaminated every act of love. And so the erotic became transformed
from the source of life-renewing energy to the reward for violence and
brutality. Sex and violence became linked. [From Chapter 2, "The
Dismembering of the World"]

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