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Archive for the ‘War Rape’ Category

As the wonderful Richard Söderberg said while he was on the Guldbagge awards, (Swedish Oscars) In order for women to take a step forward, men need to take a step back. It was a wonderful, true and very aware statement from one of Swedens coolest people. I thought about that statement, and about #metoo which he was, of course, referring too when I read this poem written by Syrian born Palestinian and now Stockholm resident poet Ghayath Almadhoun. It’s a beautiful poem of sadness and repentance for his part in the oppression of women everywhere, even in countries in which he has never set foot, in centuries long past and yet to come, for crimes against women he has never seen committed by men he has never met. If we are to grow past this oppression, men everywhere need to stand up and acknowledge their part in it, and take a step back so that women can take that so very important step forward.
 
Confession – Poem by Ghayath Almadhoun
 
You;
women who have trampled grapes
with bare feet
since the beginning of history
who were locked in chastity belts
in Europe
who were burnt to death
in the Middle Ages
who wrote novels
under male pseudonyms
in order to get published
who harvested tea
in Ceylon
who rebuilt Berlin
after the war
who grew the cotton
in Egypt
who covered your bodies with excrement
to avoid rape by French soldiers
in Algeria
virgins
in Cuba
who rolled cigars
on their naked thighs
members of the Black Diamond guerillas
in Liberia
samba dancers
in Brazil
women who have had faces destroyed
by acid
in Afghanistan
my mother …
 
Forgive me.
 
Translation from Swedish: James Blake
Ghayath Almadhoun
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Please let me encourage you to share this!! Sexual violence as a war strategy in Iraq

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Egypt opens Rafah border crossing to receive wounded Palestinians – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online.

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Desertpeace

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July 4th should be a day of celebration… a day of joy. Today, it is merely another day on the calendar. The United States is no longer the proud independent country it was meant to be. Even worse, it has become the country that has been instrumental in the denial of independence to other nations, just to name a few….
Palestine
Afghanistan
Iran
Iraq
There are more….. many more.
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What once was the example that the world looked to for guidance has become one of the most feared entities among the nations…. feared both from the outside and from within.
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We have watched with great pain the withering away of constitutional rights guaranteed to its citizens. We have watched with the same pain its citizens stripped of health care and education so billions can be spent on illegal wars and support to illegal nations.
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What happened to the…

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The world still failing to act despite Rwanda genocide shame | Amnesty International.

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Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I want to recognize that, albeit a day late.
In a world where around 70 percent of all women experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, women simply can not allow a step backwards in their march towards freedom and gender equality.They have to refuse it with every fiber of their being.  In the USA, women’s rights are in danger of being slowly replaced by a return to antique, patriarchal repressive denial. It saddens me deeply to think that in the US, those who would eliminate federal funding for childcare or prenatal and post natal care, or loans and grants for higher education for the poor are still being elected to high office, or even worse, almost being elected to the Oval Office.This empowers their continuing denial and inflames their desire for a return to repression. It was the women voters who re-elected  Obama, or rather perhaps, who refused to elect Romney. That should tell you something!
Men around the globe have to learn that their best interests are served by giving women not only true equality, instead of the false version now practised, but true positions of leadership, True empowerment. The ability and opportunity and positions within government to make and enforce policy actions and decisions.
Let us measure up as men. Freedom gained for one is more freedom gained for us all. Take a stand against violence towards women. Not just in the US or here in Sweden but everywhere. Read up on how you can help to stop oppression and gender related violence world-wide. It is happening not just in the third world, not just in extremist muslim countries but right next door to where you live, or perhaps even in your own house. To quote the brilliant Desmond Tutu, “I call on men and boys everywhere to take a stand against the mistreatment of girls and women. It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”

This is a brilliant article by Desmond Tutu,, please read it!

http://www.theelders.org/article/let-us-measure-men

Read the message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

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As so many around the world did, I watched the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, or as much as I could until work so rudely interrupted. It was a wonderful celebration of women and their various political and governmental roles, both on a grass-roots level and in leadership positions. I don’t feel that I’m going too far out on a limb to say that at no time in history has the effect of and possibilities of women in leadership roles been more apparent, especially in the political realm. The roles of women has changed considerably in this young century, changed to the point that they are finally getting the respect they deserve as it becomes more and more apparent that in no country can there be a true peace or democracy without the direct input, active participation and leadership of women.

However, as always in the cause of civil liberty, those gains have come at a very high price. In his ceremony speech to present the Nobel Peace Prizes, Thorbjörn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said this,

“Men and women have at all times experienced war in different ways. Although women, too, have fought in wars through the centuries, and today even engage in terrorism, it is the men who to a far greater extent have engaged in the actual warfare. In modern wars the majority of the victims are often civilian and very many of them are women and children.

Rape has always been one of the horrors of war. But in recent years, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Darfur, in Rwanda, and in Congo, among many other places, we have seen rape working not just as a massive violation in itself. Rape has become part of the tactics of war. The aim is to break down the enemy’s morale, to force populations to move, and to punish opponents also after the war is over.

This was defined as a crime against humanity and as war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has since reached the same conclusion.

Popular opinion in favor of this view must be strengthened, and that is what we are doing here today.

We are doing so by attracting renewed attention to the resolution adopted in October 2000 by the UN Security Council, Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in wartime an international security issue. It underlined the need to have women become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general. Women had to break out of their roles as victims; they must themselves become players who will contribute to creating peace. These goals were then hammered out further in four new Security Council resolutions, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960.These resolutions must be given prominent and visible places on the desks of all heads of state.

For there is still a long way to go before the goals of these resolutions are reached. In recent peace negotiations in various parts of the world which are surveyed, fewer than 8 per cent of the participants in the negotiations and fewer than 3 per cent of the peace agreement signatories were women. No woman has ever been appointed chief negotiator in any peace negotiations led by the UN.

Meanwhile the rapes continue, thousands of them, day after day.”

One female journalist that I know from twitter, New York resident Mona Eltahawy was in Cairo on Nov. 23rd,where she was arrested and held for 12 hours and subject to beatings and sexually molested, not raped but groped and molested repeatedly by a group of 5 or 6 men while being called terrible names. Her left hand was broken and her right arm was broken so severely that it required surgery, including a titanium plate and screws to hold it together. She describes her ordeal in this article..  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/24/journalist-mona-eltahawy-sex-assault-cairo

Obviously her story is hardly the only one, and as she points out, it may have been her dual citizenship, (Egyptian and American) that kept her from suffering a worse fate. I bring this up not to minimize what is happening daily to other women, but to give those other women who suffer in silence a face and a strong voice. She has taken on the mantle of many oppressed women throughout the world and I applaud her for that.

On December 17, a video went totally viral over the Internet. It showed an Egyptian woman being grabbed by her black robe, dragged, beaten kicked and partially stripped at Tahrir Square during a protest calling for the end of the military rule. Women, who played a substantial role in the protests leading to the fall of Mubarak are now feeling as if they are being targeted.

During the Bosnian war, Serbian troops established houses for the entrapment of Bosnian women and young girls. The most infamous was what became known as the “Karamans’ House” where Bosnian women and girls were brought against their will, trapped as sex slaves and repeatedly raped, beaten and abused and extremely humiliated. The youngest victim being only 12 years old as the Muslim women were targeted only as a means for the Serbian troops to assert their superiority and feeling of victory over them. Estimates are that during the Bosnian war Serbian soldiers raped between 20,000 and 50,000 Bosnian women. This number doesn’t even factor the men and boys who suffered the same fate. In Somalia, women in refugee camps reported being afraid to even go outside to gather firewood for fear of being raped by Kenyan gangs waiting in the bushes to demoralize them. This barbarism is sadly commonplace in such places as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Sudan and numerous refugee camps.

War rape is a type of slow genocide that affects the victims in many forms because of the physical impact on the victims including vaginal fistula, seen in the widespread rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted disease. It can lead to them being jailed as prostitutes in places like Afghanistan and being totally ostracized and outcast from society and family and left with an unwanted child and feelings of hopelessness fear and anxiety, shame and anger. The effects on the child can be catastrophic as well, Imagine having this as your legacy! Not to mention the enormous psychological effects on the victims themselves.

In Libya, during the conflict that saw the fall of Gaddafi, the International Criminal Court reports that as an official policy troops were given Viagra to ensure that they were prepared to rape at any time. The chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo reports that it is difficult to know exactly how often it was used but that certain areas reported rapes numbered in the high hundreds at least.

In fundamentalist Muslim countries such as Iran, women are still being stoned to death for being raped, the view being that it is the victims fault that the man is a total animal and unable to know right from wrong, and how to treat people with any modicum of respect.  Obviously this has to stop! This oppressive, inhuman treatment of women is the extreme male perspective, and supported by an extremist regime. There are people who are trying to fight against such hatred.  I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to stand up to such an oppressive barbaric regime.

But things are not all dread and doom, dear reader. Women are making incredible gains around the world.

I am inspired by the story of  Tawakol Karman from Yemen, who started the revolution against one of the most oppressive governments in the world, in one of the world’s poorest countries. It began in 2005 when she co-founded the group Women Journalists Without Chains. The groundswell, which became the revolution, was started in 2007 by, as she said in an interview during the Nobel Peace Prize activities, three women who had simply had enough.  (For more information please refer to the links below) Despite being arrested, beaten and chained for 36 hours, and having her life threatened numerous times, she held on to her belief and it led her to the Nobel Peace Prize.

It moved me tremendously to think that in Yemen, a country where women are not allowed to even be outside after 19:00, that three women could start a movement that would topple a ruthless dictator.  It is still very dangerous for women in Yemen, in Syria, in Egypt and all through the Middle East and Africa. In fact it is still dangerous for women all over the world.

Yesterday was Christmas. Today I want to believe in all the dreams I grew up with. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men and women, a safe place where Muslim children can play with Christian or Israeli children without fear, where men no longer victimize women for their own pathetic sense of self-esteem.

I began writing this with the memories of my own youth in my head. When women’s political involvement was, in the minds of many typically ill-informed and unsympathetic men, seen as little more than Greenpeace and green tea, where the idea of being environmentally aware for a guy was ok, but not always with the idea of actually accomplishing anything, but only as a way to meet women. I actually had a male friend suggest exactly that to me in college. Obviously he didn’t get the response he expected. We didn’t stay friends after that.  (Having said that, I want to say that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the wonderful work of Greenpeace, rather that at that time, in the early 80s they hadn’t gained the respect they were due among many American men.)

I am more and more convinced of the fact that there can be no peace without women being actively involved in government and decision policy making on every level. We’ve come a very long way in my lifetime. I am very aware of how far we have to go, of course, but I am so very buoyed by the confidence that as information flows and outside opinion becomes more accessible, as more and more women stand up against oppressive gender fascism, as tyrants are overthrown and democracy builds, that women may well be on the way to getting the power and support they so richly have deserved.

References and recommended reading;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawakel_Karman

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15216473

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/01/west-must-not-forsake-yemen

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19karman.html?_r=1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/08/revolution-saleh-yemen-peace-historic

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR16/002/2007/en/6e0e217b-d37f-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/afr160022007en.pdf

http://womennewsnetwork.net/2011/08/10/genocide-war-rape-female-survivors/

http://www.bim.ba/en/39/10/1776/

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