Interesting article on Women’s Enews today by John Lasker on how female noncombat deaths look suspiciously like sexual violence – but the military denies it:
Mother of one dead soldier suspects sex assault
At least 20 female soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in “noncombat” circumstances that their families find mysterious. The mother of one talks here about why she thinks sexual violence–not suicide–was her daughter’s real killer.
Violence against women is no rationale for military violence
I have met with women with faces like Aisha’s in Bangladesh, where lovers or jealous husbands have thrown acid on their faces to scar them for life. I have spoken with women missing limbs because pimps mutilated them in Cambodia. I have heard from Bosnian women whose vaginas have been shredded by soldiers who inserted pointed objects and guns into them. I know women in India whose faces and bodies are a mass of burned flesh because they did not bring enough dowry. And, you don’t have to leave the United States to see such brutality. Last November I met a woman from Tennessee whose ex-husband beat her with an iron rod within an inch of her life — her jaw is shattered, her nose is broken, her left eye does not see.
If the intent of TIME magazine and organizations like Women for Afghan Women was to illuminate the taboo topic of violence against women with this picture — I am all for it. If it ignites a public debate about the silent ongoing war that patriarchy wages against girls and women in their homes, at work places, on the streets, and on army bases — bring it on. If this cover helps us advocate for a U.S. foreign policy that places the dignity and humanity of women at its core — I will be the first to celebrate.
If this country is serious about addressing the root causes of Aisha’s disfigurement — let it make a commitment to non-violence and respect for women a key component of its domestic and foreign policy. Let it help train armies of nurses, teachers, and agricultural workers in Afghanistan. Let it invest in diplomacy and decrease its unmatched military expenditure — currently more than the rest of the world combined. Let it say to its client states, whether Israel, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia, “we will stop providing military aid, if we do not see clear evidence that you are moving to address gender violence and discrimination in your societies.” Let the Senate immediately ratify Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) — the UN Bill of Rights for women. Let the U.S. lead by realizing women’s rights at home before it invades other nations where it can moralize about “tribal” practices.
Here’s a great article in the New York Times about sexual abuse in the military –
A Peril in War Zones – Sexual abuse by fellow G.I.’s
Here are some quotes from the article:
“A woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,” Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat from California, said at a Congressional hearing this year…
Captain White said she had feared coming forward, despite having become increasingly despondent and suffered panic attacks, because she was wary of she-said-he-said recriminations that would reverberate through the tightknit military world and disrupt the mission. Despite the military’s stated “zero tolerance” for abuse or harassment, she had no confidence her case would be taken seriously and so tried to cope on her own, Captain White said.
At least 10 percent of the victims in the last year were men, a reality that the Pentagon’s task force said the armed services had done practically nothing to address in terms of counseling, treatment and prosecution.
The military can no more eradicate sexual abuse than can society in general, but soldiers, officers and experts acknowledge that it is particularly harmful when soldiers are in combat zones, affecting not only the victims but also, as the military relies more than ever on women when the nation goes to war, the mission.
If they want to, the women can now seek medical treatment and counseling without setting off a criminal investigation. And all the services have started educational programs to address aspects of a hierarchical warrior culture that some say contributes to hostility toward women.