Silence is the enemy


11:53 am - June 12th 2009

by Cath Elliott    


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A friend told me recently about an evening she’d just spent visiting an elderly uncle who was staying with her parents. Now this uncle, let’s call him Bob, is in his seventies, and is fond of telling stories about his past. This particular evening was no exception, and as my friend, her partner, and various other relatives (including his wife) settled down to chill out after a big family meal, Bob started off on one of his tales.

But this story turned out to be a bit different from the normal, everyday reminiscences the family was used to hearing: this one was about the time Bob was out in Libya doing his National Service, more specifically about the time he witnessed 6 or more of his colleagues line up and rape a young woman.

Apparently the soldiers had been given a night off and so had gone out to a small town close to where they were billeted. There, they’d come upon a local couple, and after a brief discussion among themselves about how they hadn’t seen a woman in ages, one of the group went over to the man and asked him how much he’d be prepared to take to let them have sex with his wife The two men negotiated, and eventually the husband settled on a price.

According to Bob’s version of events, he then looked on as the rest of the group took it in turns to rape the woman.

When the soldiers had all had a go and were content they were finished, the husband asked them for the money they’d promised him. The soldiers gave him nothing, instead they beat him to the ground, and ran away laughing.

My friend sat in stunned silence as she listened to this story, and not just because of her horror over what these men had done: but because in his telling of it, her uncle gave no indication that he found the tale in any way problematic. Because in his telling of it, he recounted it in the same way he’d recounted all of his other old stories: and because when he finished, he sat back smiling as if he expected the assembled guests to find it as entertaining as he did.

I wonder how many other old soldiers have similar stories to tell.

My guess is it’s far more than many of us would care to imagine.

It’s long been recognised that rape is and always has been used as a weapon of war, and as a weapon of ethnic cleansing and genocide, as detailed here by Katharine MacKinnon in her account of the systematic rape that took place during the Bosnian/Serbian conflict:

Like all rapes, these rapes are particular as well as generic, and the particularity matters. This is ethnic rape as an official policy of war: not only a policy to defile, torture, humiliate, degrade, and demoralise the other side; not only a policy of men posturing to gain advantage and ground over other men. It is rape under orders: not out of control, under control. It is rape unto death, rape as massacre, rape to kill or make the victims wish they were dead. It is rape as an instrument of forced exile, to make you leave your home and never come back. It is rape to be seen and heard by others, rape as spectacle. It is rape to shatter a people, to drive a wedge through a particular community. It is the rape of misogyny liberated by xenophobia and unleashed by official command. It is rape as genocide.

It is rape made sexy for the perpetrators by the defencelessness and youth of many of the victims and the rapists’ absolute power to select victims at will….It is rape made exciting by knowing that there are no limits on what can be done, that the women can be raped to death. Most of all, it is rape made sexually irresistible by the fact that the women are about to be sacrificed, by the ultimate power of reducing a person to a corpse, by the powerlessness of the women and children in the face of their imminent murder at the hands of their rapist. It is murder as the ultimate sex act. Do not say it is not sex for the men. When the men are told to take the women away and not bring them back, they rape them, then kill them, then sometimes they rape them again, cut off their breasts, and rip out their wombs….This is rape as torture and rape as extermination.”
— From MacKinnon, “Crimes of war, crimes of peace” in Are Women Human.

Even in areas where there is no longer conflict, rapes and other forms of sexual violence continue to be perpetrated for months and often years afterwards. It seems that wherever conflict arises, and wherever armies march, increases in sex crimes against women, both in local populations and more recently within the forces themselves, will follow close behind.

And these aren’t ancient crimes; these aren’t long-forgotten narratives filched from the pages of history to provide evidence of the barbarity of our forefathers. No, these atrocities are modern and completely of our time. From the Red Army and the rape of Berlin, to Vietnam, Darfur, Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda, the 20th and early 21st centuries have been littered with the bodies of the victims of this abuse. Indeed, only in the past few weeks it’s come to light that there’s now photographic evidence of the rape and sexual abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by American armed forces.

And the one common thread running through it all is the silence. Because far too often and for far too many people these are the stories they don’t want to hear told, the truths they don’t want to acknowledge. These are the victims in far off lands, the others, not like us and not of us, and their suffering isn’t ours.

Well it’s time for that silence to end.

As a follow-up to this NY Times article on the continuing mass rape of women in Liberia, Isis the Scientist, along with other US bloggers, has decided to launch an online initiative aimed at raising awareness of sexual violence, not just in Liberia but globally. They’re calling it Silence is the Enemy, and those involved are now donating all of their June blogging revenues to Medecins Sans Frontieres for the treatment and relief of victims of mass rape and other systematic sexual assaults.

Obviously the blogs need as many hits as possible over the next few weeks to generate that income, so spread the word and get clicking:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/
http://scienceblogs.com/isisthescientist/
http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/
http://scienceblogs.com/bioephemera/
http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/
http://scienceblogs.com/authority/
http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/
http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/

The list is likely to grow, so keep checking here for updates.

Hat-tip to theOlady.

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About the author
Cath Elliott is a regular contributor. She is a feminist, a trade union activist, and a freelance writer and blogger. Also at: Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Crime ,Feminism ,Foreign affairs ,Sex equality

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Reader comments


That is absolutely horrific. One wonders how many stories like that come back from Iraq and Afghanistan or whether our armed services may have moved on from that. Not that we have managed to move on in the sense of managing to avoid sending large numbers of people out to shoot other people on fairly speculative grounds, which I think remains the root of the problem here.

The act that Cath’s friend describes is disgusting and there is simply no way I would tolerate such bestial behaviour. I’ve been a soldier in a war zone (unlike those creeps who raped the Libyan woman, who were soldiers in a country where there was no war) and I would never rape a woman, or allow anyone else to do so, or keep silent if I thought that rape had been committed. Campaigning against rape in war is an admirable thing to do, and if I can help this campaign in any way I will.

Nick: ‘One wonders how many stories like that come back from Iraq and Afghanistan or whether our armed services may have moved on from that.’

I cannot express quite how much contempt I feel for the likes of Nick who think they can speculate about whether people like me are rapists, because we did something that is apparently quite contemptible and volunteered to risk our lives in Helmand.

I served as a soldier in Afghanistan last year. I did not hear of anything that might even hint at soldiers raping women, and saw for myself that female soldiers were treated with respect by the men they worked with: not surprisingly, since their lives quite often depended on each other. I despise rape, and violence against women generally, and have stepped in a number of times to prevent women being threatened or assaulted in the street.

I saw one rape victim: a teenage boy who had been gang-fucked by Afghan men and taken to the hospital at Camp Bastion by a British Army unit. The nurses at Bastion seemed largely unshockable but they were deeply upset by what had happened to him.

I have more or less managed to settle back into civilian life, as an Oxford graduate in his thirties- but it has not been that easy. God knows how much harder it must be for some less 21 year-old leaving the regular Army, and coping not only with his memories of war but with the suspicions of people who think he just might be a rapist, or a murderer.

Large-scale rape occurred in the wars in Sierra Leone and in Bosnia. One reason that it stopped- far, far too late- was that British soldiers were prepared to risk those lives to bring those wars to an end. Read up on the Taliban if you are really ignorant about what they do to women. I am not sure whether there should be British troops in Afghanistan, and I met many soldiers who were vehemently opposed to our fighting a war there. But there is one kind of rhetoric that is utterly disgusting, and that is this casual talk about how soldiers may in fact be rapists or murderers or torturers.

Soldiers are the people- along with the civilians in war zones- who have the fucking realities of war pushed right in our faces. I have seen men and women and children bleeding or gasping or screaming from gunshot wounds and explosives. I know what war does to civilians because I have tried to save their lives after they were shot or bombed. You see that and you have to live with it for the rest of your life. And what do I read here? Some little man who has never seen a war musing over whether I or the people I served with raped any women.

>>”It seems that wherever conflict arises, and wherever armies march, increases in sex crimes against women, both in local populations and more recently within the forces themselves, will follow close behind.”

Absolutely true, in every conflict, as recently or as far back as you wish to go. Rape is an integral part of war, and has always been twinned with it. It’s almost puzzling if you’re not used to thinking of the two together, but the evidence is constant and overwhelming.

In what manner does rape happening make it integral?

Rape happens on a Friday night but is not integral to friday nights. It happens when people drink, but is not integral to drinking. It happens in Norway but is not integral to Norway.

In the Napoleonic Wars English troops were hanged for any form of fraternising with local girls – suggesting that the military command at least, understood the risk of damaging relations with the communities they were surrounded by.

And while some individuals are dispicable – there is little evidence that the British Army (or other western armies in places like Iraq or Afghanistan now) have a dispropotionate number of such people willing to rape local women.

Cath: while the original story is obviously revolting and thorougly discreditable, it’s not clear to me from the story that it’s rape, at least unless you take the line that all prostitution is rape.

Did the husband sell the wife against her will, or did she consent on the basis that they’d be able to live for months on the proceeds? It’s not clear from ‘Bob’s’ story – unless the use of ‘rape’ was actually his telling rather than your friend’s interpretation, in which case of course it’s inexcusable…

That doesn’t alter the general point that rape is widely used as a weapon of war & this should be stamped out. But I suspect ‘Bob’ would be as appalled as any of the rest of us by the rapes that happened in Bosnia – rather, in his eyes this was just a story of a sleazy pimp who got his come-uppance.

I should say, having just re-read my comment – that I in no way meant to defend any form of sexual exploitation either at war or peace. And while I quibbled over the notion that it is integral, I do of course think more should be done to counter it’s acceptability among some military forces.

@7, likewise for me @6

“I cannot express quite how much contempt I feel for the likes of Nick who think they can speculate about whether people like me are rapists, because we did something that is apparently quite contemptible and volunteered to risk our lives in Helmand.”

Well, I apologise if you were offended, but, as a soldier, I imagine you have quite a thick skin on these matters. You will notice that I described the habit of sending troops into wars as “our” habit. I.e. a problem for each and every one of us, not just those who actually end up going along.

Considering the history of sexual exploitation in war, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to inquire about how much we have moved on now. You know, to ask the question. Just in the same way, a Catholic priest should, ideally, not be offended by inquiries as to how many priests are still abusing children, if it has been a real problem in the past.

10. Shatterface

Horrific: there are times when it’s not only justifyable to turn your guns on your ‘own’ side but a moral obligation.

You contemptible little man. Why should any normal human being have a ‘thick skin’ about rape? Does being a soldier mean I don’t regard rape as a hideous crime, and that I should just ‘suck it up’ if people want to wonder if I am a rapist? What a revolting little fool you are.

12. Shatterface

Nick’s absolutely right about about a degree of collective responsibility.

It by no means absolves individual soldiers of their own actions to suggest that those who send people into combat situations, no matter how justified they think the cause, should weigh up the probability that rape or other kinds of violence against civilians will occur.

Let me say quite clearly again what I said when another writer on this site was eagerly accusing all soldiers of responsibility for the torture of Iraqis: the responsibility for any vile act, like torture or rape, is that of the person who commits it or of any person who could have prevented them from committing it but fails to do so. If there are any allegations of rape or torture by British soldiers they should be investigated as rigorously as possible, and if proven punished severely. And there should be as many systems in place as possible to prevent criminal acts from taking place.

But you’re not addressing specific allegations, you are speculating on the basis of no evidence. To make yourself even more contemptible, you airily announce that soldiers must have a ‘thick skin’ about rape, or accusations of rape.

I was in Afghanistan. I didn’t see rape; I didn’t see torture; I saw young people, soldiers, taking enormous risks but not maltreating civilians; and I saw decent systems in place to ensure the proper handling of detainees (systems which should have been in place in the early occupation of Iraq, but which shamefully weren’t).

The rhetoric about ‘sending large numbers of people out to shoot other people on fairly speculative grounds…’ is just teenage blather. Afghanistan is a real place with some hideous problems. The war pre-dated the arrival of NATO troops. People will be killed if all NATO troops are pulled out of the country tomorrow, people will be killed if NATO troops remain. I would support any policy which reduced the killing or even- what would be marvellous- ended the war. I just don’t know what that policy is.

But it’s much easier for you to pretend that the Afghan war would cease to exist if we just all implemented your magic solution, whatever it might be. It is certainly possible that a withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan would simply mean a Taliban takeover of the southern towns and cities, and if you think that would not lead to the killing and repression of women you are an even bigger fool than I thought. I’ve seen female victims of the Taliban with my own eyes: and as I say, I have to live with those memories, while you type your mindless cliches.

Shatterface: anyone who advocates war has to recognise that people (soldiers and civilians) will be killed in that war, and the failure to recognise that is one of the big deficiencies of politics over the last few years. Too many advocates of the Iraq war just thought it would be a zero-casualty affair.

But responsibility for rape and torture lies with the people who commit such acts or who fail to prevent them. They are crimes and it’s the job of the army to make sure they are recognised as such.

Nick wasn’t making any intelligent comments on these matters at all. He was just saying ‘I wonder how many of these soldiers back from Afghanistan are rapists?’ My answer: I’m not, and I doubt if any of the others are. And then he had the fucking nerve to say that I should have ‘a thick skin’ about accusations of rape.

Really, too many of you people spend too much time typing out your cliches about war without realising how horrific it is and how different it seems to those of us who have actually seen some of it.

Cath writes:
And these aren’t ancient crimes; these aren’t long-forgotten narratives filched from the pages of history to provide evidence of the barbarity of our forefathers. No, these atrocities are modern and completely of our time.

Having spent a brief time researching the ongoing conflict in DR Congo, I can tell you that these are indeed modern atrocities. But they aren’t new. They aren’t “completely of our time” because they are also of other times. Some of the accounts from Cromwell’s Irish campaigns in the middle of the 15th century, for instance, would rival the horror of any story emerging from Vietnam or The Balkans or anywhere else.

It’s probable that rape has been a deliberate tactic of war since as long as we’ve been having wars.

I trust you’ll understand that this is most certainly not an attempt to lessen or mitigate the crime. As in “well, it’s always happened, so what’s the big deal?” Rather, it’s a warning to those who would seek to combat this barbaric practice… people who would wage war will often employ the most vile tactics available to them. The problem is less the rapes than it is the wars.

16. Shatterface

Incidentally, the subject of officially sanctioned sexual abuse leads us to Abu Grain but also by extension to the poor record prison services have in protecting vulnerable civilian prisoners from rape by other prisoners: this is so widespread that it might as well be sanctioned and is clearly considered part of the deterence process.

17. Shatterface

Sorry: ‘Abu Ghraib’, obviously.

I would say that rape so consistently occurs in warzones that the responsibility for it must be taken on by any side entering into conflict. Just as there definitely will be civilian casualities in any large-scale scenario, just as there definitely will be accidents and friendly fire once the numbers get big enough, you have to factor in that innocents will be raped. You can be against it, you can prosecute people for it, but it will happen and we have the evidence to know that in advance.

I don’t understand the psychology of why war and rape go together so often. It is not just aggressors making their mark on their victims, it seems to be present among too many different factions for that to be the sole cause. True, in certain recent conflicts it has been a deliberate military policy. I am not talking about that, I am talking about the centuries-old association of the two things.

(I have not been aiming any of my comments at UK forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. Where rape is still a common feature of war in some parts of the world and moreso further back into the last century, I agree that any cases there would be the responsibility of individuals who deserve to be punished.)

19. Shatterface

Dan, I didn’t read Nick as accusing all – or even most – soldiers of rape any more than he was accusing all priests of paedophilia: he seemed to me to be making a sensible point that that those who send troops into another country bear some responsibility for the consequences, and that there is a culture of silence around rape just as there was in the Catholic church.

20. Shatterface

Steve B: you mentioned the psychology behind military rapes? Well firstly the army is still a largely (young) male institution and that doesn’t bode well for women INSIDE the army let alone OUTSIDE of it.

Secondly, fear and the freedom to ‘blow shit up’ is sexually arousing: Generation Kill refers several times to the soldiers’ states of arousal and to frequent ‘combat jacks’, if I recall the term correctly: post-combat masturbation.

Shatterface, if I had never spent a day as an soldier I would not posture as an authority on things military. There have been armies or units were rape was seen as acceptable, just as there are prison systems where the same thing happens. It’s the responsibilty of senior officers to prevent such cultures growing, and in the real, actual Army in which I served, that was what happened. I have actually worked with female soldiers who were in no danger of being raped by the men they served with. But you’ve read a few books on war, so you’re an expert.

Frankly, chaps, if you get beyond the age of eighteen and you feel an uncontrollable desire to talk knowledgeably about war without having been a soldier, you need to either shut up or join up.

22. Shatterface

Well yes, never having got hard shooting the fuck out of things I have obviously have no right to pass judgement on things military so I’ll just leave you to play the ‘hero'; and of course you’ll just butt the fuck out of anything you have no personal experience of either.

23. the a&e charge nurse

Talking about a traumatic incident after the event can be damaging for some individuals.
http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/06/venting-emotions-after-trauma-predicts.php

And:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/private-lives-unhappy-why-not-ditch-the-analyst-1092731.html

Isn’t there a danger that intertwining horrendous experiences to a political movement will be harmful to some victims?

On the face of it increasing awareness seems like a good idea but as Milgram famously demonstrated good people will do bad things in certain situations
http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/02/stanley-milgram-obedience-to-authority.php

There is also another fascinating analysis of Abu Ghraib by Philip (The Lucifer Effect) Zimbardo – this authority points out:
The recipe for behavior change isn’t complicated. “All evil begins with a big lie,” says Zimbardo, whether it’s a claim to be following the word of God, or the need to stamp out political opposition. A seemingly insignificant step follows, with successive small actions, presented as essential by an apparently just authority figure. The situation presents others complying with the same rules, perhaps protesting, but following along all the same. If the victims are anonymous or dehumanized somehow, all the better. And exiting the situation is extremely difficult.

Abu Ghraib fit this type of situation to a T, says Zimbardo. The guards, never trained for their work helping military interrogators, worked 12-hour shifts, 40 days without a break, in chaotic, filthy conditions, facing 1,000 foreign prisoners, and hostile fire from the neighborhood. They operated in extreme stress, under orders to impose fear on their prisoners. Zimbardo believes the outcome was perfectly predictable, and while never absolving these soldiers of personal responsibility, believes justice won’t be done until “the people who created the situation go on trial as well: George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Bush.”

Cath,

Good article. A book you may find interesting – though it’s not about rape as a weapon of war directly – is The Lucifer Effect by Phillip Zimbardo.

It attempts to explain how horrific things like gang rape can become normalised under situational forces, and goes some way to explaining why “Bob” might not comprehend the abhorence of the event he witnessed. The book is based on the findings of the Stanford Prison experiment (which Zimbardo originally undertook), and is very, very interesting background reading on this sort of issue.

Oh, didn’t realise the A&E charge nurse had already said it!

26. the a&e charge nurse

Sexual abuse is a weapon that has been used by women as well according to Erik Saar.

In his book ‘Inside the Wire’, (about Guantanamo) Saar describes female interrogators humiliating muslim men, for example by undressing in front of them, or by rubbing menstrual blood on the victims face then denying an opportunity to wash
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6876549/

The lesson we must learn (according to experimenters like Zimbardo & Milgram, and authors like Saar) is that in certain conditions like a war zone, or prison ‘ordinary’ men and women can do terrible things.

After Cath’s post I have been pondering whether or not increasing awareness of atrocities like sex crimes is:
*good for the victim?
*good for the wider community?
*likely to reduce similar types of behaviour in the future?

But given the information-age we live in it seems that such data/experiences must get out into the open by one means or another.

27. Shatterface

There is evidence that councelling and psychotherapy in particular can do much more harm than good as they cause the victim to relive their trauma but bringing sexual abuse into the open is the only way the prevent it happening in the future: it can’t be left to the army to police themselves as the response illustrated by Hardie’s comments above indicate: (a) ‘It ain’t happenning’, and (b) ”You weren’t there maaan, you don’t know what it was like!’

Shatterface, the practice of behaving like a c@nt to returned veterans was not followed by the anti-Vietnam war movement and I’m damned if I’m going to see it creep into this one. Apologise for that.

No need to apologise- this was a particularly stupid post.

Of course we all know horrific things happen in war- in all wars, including the current conflict in Afghanistan. The attempt by the author to select one of those horrors (the rape of women) and to try to generate some kind of post-feminist capital from it insults the intelligence of the reader.

I have the utmost respect for our soldiers who have no say in the wars they are asked to fight on our behalf. So it is not Dan’s fault that he has returned from one of the most futile and ridiculous foreign escapades we have ever undertaken but that fact that I have not fought beside him does not make this opinion worthless.

From the main post.
It is rape made sexy for the perpetrators by the defencelessness and youth of many of the victims and the rapists’ absolute power to select victims at will….It is rape made exciting by knowing that there are no limits on what can be done, that the women can be raped to death. Most of all, it is rape made sexually irresistible by the fact that the women are about to be sacrificed, by the ultimate power of reducing a person to a corpse, by the powerlessness of the women and children in the face of their imminent murder at the hands of their rapist. It is murder as the ultimate sex act. Do not say it is not sex for the men. When the men are told to take the women away and not bring them back, they rape them, then kill them, then sometimes they rape them again, cut off their breasts, and rip out their wombs….This is rape as torture and rape as extermination.”

From MacKinnon, “Crimes of war, crimes of peace” in Are Women Human. (K.A. MacKinnon~international Human Rights lawyer)

Pagar – The attempt by the author to select one of those horrors (the rape of women) and to try to generate some kind of post-feminist capital from it insults the intelligence of the reader.

And you sir are an ignorant and insensitive rape apologist who insults the intelligence and humanity of decent men and women.

Also from Cath’s post.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT3n-_-k1ig

Some more ‘post-feminist capital’.

Thanks for the book recommendation folks, I’ll certainly take a look at it.

Pagar – “post-feminist capital”?

As the saying goes: I’ll be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy……

And you sir are an ignorant and insensitive rape apologist who insults the intelligence and humanity of decent men and women.

Harsh, surely!!!

For the record, can I state that I find the act of rape one of the most heinous and unforgivable of crimes.

My point is that to use what happened in Bosnia in the middle of an horrific genocide as a comment on the subject of rape is about as useful as citing the use of machetes in Rwanda in a discussion of knife crime.

It is murder as the ultimate sex act. Do not say it is not sex for the men.

I also find it distasteful and unhelpful to quote graphic descriptions of horrific murderous atrocities and to link these to allegations of sexual abuse of women within the armed forces and articles about whether or not men have a “rape switch”.

It seems to me that to do so, in pursuit of a feminist argument, is to demean those who suffered and died so tragically.

Or pager, here’s the “Padlocked Vagina” for your ‘post-feminist capital’

http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/the-padlocked-vagina-fistula-rapes-in-the-congo/

“Of the many rape zones on Rape Planet Earth, the Congo is currently the most savage. After gang raping women and girls, soldiers are piercing their labia and padlocking their vaginas shut. Hot plastic as well as sticks and bayonets are being inserted into the women. Six-month-old girls have been raped to death“

Have a look at Suki Falconberg’s site, linked on the post. There are several photos of women who have been sexually mutilated by soldiers. And no, they are not ‘isolated’ atrocities committed by individuals. This tactic is used as a systematic weapon of war in order to destroy women and their communities. So much in fact that specialist hospitals have been set up, purely to try repair female’s destroyed reproductive systems.

“Nothing new, either, about “sexual terrorism,” the use of women’s bodies as battlefields for male cruelty, for political ends—we have seen it all before, in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur. (And now in Iraq.)”

pagar “It seems to me that to do so, in pursuit of a feminist argument, is to demean those who suffered and died so tragically”

Nice try pagar but it’s not feminists demeaning them.

The attempt by the author to select one of those horrors (the rape of women) and to try to generate some kind of post-feminist capital from it insults the intelligence of the reader.

So what do you suggest we use other than testimony and data when highlighting rape and war?

So what do you suggest we use other than testimony and data when highlighting rape and war?

I don’t mind you highlighting rape or war, just don’t conflate the two

Watch my lips.

Rapes happen.

Wars happen.

Rapes happen during wars.

Rapes happen when there is no war..

If I could eradicate both tomorrow I would.

But I can’t.

Of course all the testimony you have assembled is a brutal indictment of man’s inhumanity- I couldn’t finish watching the Youtube link on Liberia it was so depressing.

And no doubt I could link to the story of a man who has had his tongue cut out or his dick cut off and stuffed in his mouth or whatever other barbarity you care to imagine.

But I just don’t see where it is going to get us.

Pagar.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as a weapon of war in order to humiliate, punish, control, inflict terror and displace women and their communities. These rapes and other sexual violence amount to serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ack, I’m not going to waste any more pixels on you and your rape apologia. Suffice to say that the Genie is out of the bottle in regards to rape as a weapon of war and it isn’t going back in. Your contrived and delicate sensibilities (read: stop telling the truth and just let the military get away with what they have been doing for millennia) isn’t going to stop feminists and other humanitarians bringing this morally repugnant disregard for women and children (young boys are also a target for rape) into focus.

Again: rape as a weapon of war— which violates international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

PS: shorter pagar “men rape get over it”

THE END

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as a weapon of war in order to humiliate, punish, control, inflict terror and displace women and their communities.

For God’s sake read what you have written. It’s no doubt well meant but it is, literally, nonsense.

A gun is a weapon of war.

A bomb is a weapon of war.

A bayonet is a weapon of war.

A penis is NOT a weapon of war.

Your vision of armies of men displacing communities of women through the strategic and violent use of their sexual organs is…..well…..bonkers!!!

Rape, in whatever circumstances it occurs, is an evil, horrible, nasty crime.

Let’s leave it at that.

Yes well I’m pleased that the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon et al feel differently than you do. At least they have a more transparent agenda.

http://warcrimes.foreignpolicyblogs.com/2008/06/20/un-recognizes-use-of-rape-as-weapon-a-war-crime/

Pixels – I waste them.

As Cooper and a 60 Minutes team found when they went there a few months ago, the most frequent targets of this hidden war are women. It is, in fact, a war against women, and the weapon used to destroy them, their families and whole communities, is rape.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/11/60minutes/main3701249.shtml

From the link provided at 41 -“When a woman is raped, it’s not just her that’s raped. It’s the entire community that’s destroyed,” says Judithe Registre, who is with an organization called “Women for Women.” They run support groups for survivors of rape.

“When they take a woman to rape her, they’ll line up the family, they’ll line up other members of the communities to actually witness that,” Registre says. “They make them watch. And so, what that means for that particular woman when it’s all over, is that total shame, personally, to have been witnessed by so many people as she’s being violated.”

Many of the women in Dr. Mukwege’s hospital are not only blamed for what happened to them, they are shunned because of fears they’ve contracted HIV and shunned because their rapes were so violent they can no longer control their bodily functions.

Dr. Mukwege says he’s doing about five surgeries a day.

His patients often have had objects inserted into their vaginas, like broken bottles, bayonets. Some women have even been shot between the legs by their rapists.

“Why would somebody do that? Why would somebody shoot a woman inside?” Cooper asks.

“In the beginning I was asking myself the same question. This is a show of force, of power, it’s done to destroy the person,” Dr. Mukwege says. “Sex is being used to commit evil. People flee. They become refugees. They can’t get help, they become malnourished and it’s disease which finishes them off.”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Pagar – you really think that this will not ‘displace communities’ and make people flee?

Seriously?

Sorry about the lengthy C&P Cath but as your title suggests “Silence is the enemy” and for what ever reason some folks want to keep that silence.

pagar writes:
Your vision of armies of men displacing communities of women through the strategic and violent use of their sexual organs is…..well…..bonkers!!!

Rape has been used as a deliberate (and terrifyingly widespread) tactic in the conflict in DR Congo (which I know something about) as well as in numerous other places (which I’ve not studied so shan’t comment upon). To claim otherwise is either a lie or ignorance. If your statement is an example of the latter (i.e. just a failure to do any basic research), then it’s forgiveable though a silly thing to say. If it’s the former however, one wonders what your motivation might be.

Regarding the decades-old conflict in DRC, according to Médecins Sans Frontières:
“More than three quarters of the women that we have treated have been raped by unknown armed soldiers. In the eastern regions of the DRC, while rape is etched into the general framework of violence, it’s also seen as fully legitimate “additional retribution” by the armed groups.”

Think about that for a second… the only significant medical organisation in the country states that more than 75% of the women it has treated have been the victims of rape. Beyond that, they make it quite clear that it is considered a “fully legitimate” tactic by the various militia groups.

Of course, maybe you’re calling MSF “bonkers”? If so, however, it might be worthwhile providing some evidence to support your hypothesis that they are just making shit up.

Rape is used as a systematic form of terrorism in DRC. Worse still (if that can be imagined) is the deliberate infliction of massive damage to the woman’s genitals post-rape. I suggest you google “fistula” and “DR Congo”. But only if you have a strong stomach.

The reasons why rape and sexual violence are employed as a deliberate tactic are actually quite straight-forward and well-understood from the standpoint of group psychodynamics (my field). I’ll gladly discuss them should you wish, but this comment was merely to point out that your claim that rape and sexual violence are never used as a military tactic (or that such a suggestion is “bonkers”) is simply incorrect. The studies which investigate this phenomenon make deeply unpleasant reading, but I can point you to them should you be unable to track them down yourself.

If we go back to our monkey cousins we can see that when a new male attacks and kills the existing alpha male, he next kills the babies to bring the females into estrus so he can mate with them and procreate quickly. He will then protect his troop from other males ensuring at least some survive before he himself is killed and the cycle starts again.

Therefore rape in war conditions in humans must have probably started the same way.

Lilliput – that may be the case of chimpanzees but not of bonobos which are as much genetically similar to us as are chimps. Selective evolutionary science here I think (groan)

Chimps also do not sexually mutilate and murder females just because they are female in order to instill terror and displace chimp communities.

Nut: we are not chimps. However in the DRC some militia are making women eat their own babies (google it)

Clue – it’s about hate, power and control.

Jim Bliss. “The reasons why rape and sexual violence are employed as a deliberate tactic are actually quite straight-forward and well-understood from the standpoint of group psychodynamics (my field). I’ll gladly discuss them should you wish [..]

I for one would, if you have the time, would be interested in hearing some theories of group-dynamics pertaining to this. I’m sure this is relevant to to the post and thread.

47. the a&e charge nurse

I have no have idea if DRC militia are plumbing new depths of depravity when it comes to sexual terror – even so I imagine they would have to go some way to beat the Red Army
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1382565/Red-Army-troops-raped-even-Russian-women-as-they-freed-them-from-camps.html

Or of course the Nazis who engaged in mass rape, forced prostitution and sterilisation.
http://www.hrlaws.blogspot.com/2009/02/4nazi-germany-forced-prostitution-rape.html

But as Zimbardo would probably point out most of the Russians & Germans would have been considered ‘ordinary’ men before the war.

I do not know if there is such a thing as ‘normal life’ in the DRC or how we make sense of a state that appears to have no rule of law?


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Silence is the enemy http://bit.ly/18yI4v





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