Sunday, June 22, 2008

A 'new' weapon

I barely have the energy to write about this. It's such a draining topic, and it's so easy to get bogged down in the awfulness of it all. However, I can't not mention it, so short blog entry it is.

This week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war.

"The document describes the deliberate use of rape as a tactic in war and a threat to international security.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said violence against women had reached 'unspeakable proportions' in some societies recovering from conflict.

The UN is also setting up an inquiry to report next June on how widespread the practice is and how to tackle it."

(See story here.)

Despite my wonderings of what, if anything, this can do to eventually help prevent such acts in war, I am glad the UN has officially recognized rape as a war weapon and how big of a problem it has been, is, and can become, and I'm glad they're discussing it and at least trying to see if anything can be done about it. It's nothing new; rape has gone hand-in-hand with war since, well, war. (How old is the phrase "rape and pillage," anyway?) Hopefully we are at a time in our history where enough people on this planet give a shit about how women are treated that something can be done other than talk about how awful it is. If nothing else, this seems like a step in that direction.

I've been reading article after article about rape and war, all of them horrifying. I'm not going to link to all them, but if anyone wants to look further into the issue, a quick Google search will bring up more than enough reading material. This site has good, though somewhat outdated, articles. Also, Eve Ensler wrote an editorial about Condoleeza Rice's statements at the U.N.

Here's more lovely news concerning rape and war: U.S. Department of Defense statistics show that 2,947 sexual assaults were reported in 2006. These are sexual assaults within our own troops. As in a male U.S. soldier assaulting a female U.S. soldier. I highly recommend this piece in the L.A. Times, and this article as well, which also talks about cover-ups and lack of any real punishment in some of the assaults reported, for more reading on the topic.

**Edited to add:
I can't believe I forgot to include the NYT's op-ed piece by Nicholas D. Kristof
about this topic, which was published before the U.N. meeting on the topic, and which is what alerted me to the meeting in the first place. Some excerpts that, to me, drive the point home:

Painfully slowly, the United Nations and its member states seem to be recognizing the fact that systematic mass rape is at least as much an international outrage as, say, pirated DVDs.

Systematic rape has properly been found by international tribunals to constitute a crime against humanity, and it thrives in part because the world shrugs.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the articles, J. I think the most alarming part of your blog was the Dept of Defense stats....pretty shocking (to me). I wonder what kind of percentage that is?

Rosie said...

I read something about what percentage of female soldiers are sexually harassed, but I can't remember the number. It was significant, I do remember that. As in maybe 35 percent to 45 percent.

GI Jane indeed.


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