Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rape and the spoils of war

I remember in the mid90s, sitting in a political science class, when the professor was discussing, no, excusing the rape that had just occurred in Bosnia and Kosovo by way of explaining it as 'spoils of war'. It was something that men did in the face of death and destruction. Some primal urge. I was in my early 30s then and the majority of my classmates were much younger than myself, except for the odd student. Sitting in the back, I could see their reaction of disbelief. It was not just politically incorrect, it was truly ignorant. The professor actually believed it!

I could not say nothing and inspite of always having felt extremely shy to speak up in class, I raised my hands and said "no professor, rape is not an act of desire, it's an act of aggression".

Monika Hauser

One of Amy Goodman's fellow recipients of the Right Livelihood award (see post below), the alternative Nobel award, is Monika Hauser. She is a gynocologist and founded a non profit organization based in Germany called "medica mondiale". Her organization works to "prevent and punish sexual violence against women and girls in wartime."
Over 70.000 women and girls from "Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Afghanistan" have been exposed to their aid.

Anti-rape sign in Liberia

Here is an excerpt of Amy Goodman's interview with Monika Hauser:

"...Hauser received the Right Livelihood Awardfor “her tireless commitment to working with women who have experienced the most horrific sexual violence in some of the most dangerous countries in the world, and campaigning for them to receive social recognition and compensation.”She joins me here in the studio in Stockholm, Sweden.
Welcome to Democracy Now!"

MONIKA HAUSER: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: "So, congratulations, and tell us about your organization. What is medica mondiale? What prompted you to start this?"

MONIKA HAUSER: "I founded medica mondiale in the end of ’92, because I realized what happened in Bosnia, because in the war there, many, many women got raped. And as a young gynecologist who has worked already with raped women before in Germany and other places in Europe, I was aware about that these women need a holistic approach of support. They need medical support, they need psychosocial support."

photo by HIDAJET DELIC [Bosnian Muslim women holding posters with the names of the missing during a protest in front of the UN office in Sarajevo, on Friday, July 18 , 2008. Hundreds of war-time rape victims protested against the decision of the U.N. war crimes tribunal to reject the prosecution's request for rape to be added to the charges against two Bosnian Serbs currently on trial for other war crimes. The women claim Milan and Sredoje Lukic organized rape camps for Serb soldiers in which they held Muslim women as sex slaves. Milan and Sredoje Lukic are on trial at the tribunal in Netherlands for murder and other war crimes described by the prosecution as one of the most brutal in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.]

"When I read the media reports, I got very angry, angry about that what happened to the women and angry about that how the medias reported about the women. They scandalized that what happened to them. And instead of looking to them as survivors of grave human rights violations, they abused, misused them again by their media reports. So I said to myself I have to support these women, as a gynecologist, as a feminist and as a European.

I went there to central Bosnia, and I found very fast twenty professional Bosnian women, gynecologists, nurses, psychologists, who were very eager to start with me this women’s therapy center there."

AMY GOODMAN:" And how did you go from that to working in countries around the world?"

MONIKA HAUSER: "So, this was the first step, and now Medica Zenica is fifteen years old, the project there, still working and still helping traumatized women. And the staff there is very experienced.

And then we started new programs in Kosovo, because we saw after the end of the war there in ’99 that to Kosovo women, the same happened again. Rape as a tool of war was happening, and they were exposed to so much violence. So we decided to set up there our second project. And Bosnian therapists, Bosnian professionals supported us to build up this new project. They trained their new colleagues."

"The 12-year-old girl, gang-raped in Afghanistan, weeps as her family demands justice", please see >"Muslims Against Sharia - Islamic Reform Movement"

"And the same with Afghanistan. This is our main project since 2002. We have there now, in the meantime, over seventy local female staff members, and we had again the Bosnian therapists with their huge experience coming over to Kabul to train doctors, midwives, nurses, psychologists, lawyers, in order to help traumatized Afghan women."

Read the rest of the interview.

Here is a definition of rape; The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse.

[emph,bold,underlining added by yours truly]

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Blogger D.K. Raed said...

Wartime rape is so often overlooked in the list of horrific acts committed against citizens. It's particularly brutal, not only because many of the women die or are permanently traumatized, but because they are then subjected to an unfeeling or worse mentality of family & friends who treat her as something damaged, not worthy of sympathy or reintegration into their society. Eve Enstler also did a series on the Bosnian rapes. The key is education, which is why I cannot believe your professor was so uninformed. Glad you spoke up!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thank you for helping to spread a truer understanding of this brutal practice.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Border Explorer said...

We cannot hear this too often. Great work!

8:35 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Thanks for this great piece of writing and research. But what I most want to know at this moment is what did your idiot professor say in response to your comment. Did any other women speak up. Did anyone go to his department chairperson and protest this ignorance and insensitivity. What a pig.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said... are right and still are right; it is still overlooked that is why I'm glad that Monika received this award. Rape for some reason just gets overlooked and only women will react to it as something that is incomprehensible and unacceptable. It's like some men just think of it in abstraction.. I don't know..
Ruth, when a crime like that occurs so 'close to home' as it did to many Europeans, as opposed it happening somewhere else farther away, it probably was something harder to ignore. Plus, when you live in Europe, you're used to 'civilization' and rape is not part of that. It is 'supposed' to be something primal and aggressive from the past.. Rape is one of major tools in war fare, it is not merely physical, it's psychological
BE..I have been feeling pretty uninspired to post ever since Obama became elected. It was like an anti-climax. Then when I checked Democracy Now, I saw the announcement and hence, followed 'that story'. Although again it is a second hand story at that.
Utah..I am sorry but I do not remember AT ALL what was said afterwards. I mean, the prof waffled a bit and backed off when others chimed in somewhat, but I do not know if anyone went to a 'higher up' because of his ignorance. He was considered a controversial professor anyway but part of my life at that time I just don't recall. No, not 'cause of the fog of drugs (never did) but I was just 'coping'...
I do remember being relieved and impressed that the 'younger' students 'knew' that that was a dumbass remark..


9:17 AM  
Blogger Border Explorer said...

This came in yesterday from Oxfam America & I thought it fit here:

The worst place on earth to be a woman?

The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Help change the situation: contact President-Elect Obama TODAY.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is host to the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II.

And women and girls have borne the brunt of this horrific crisis, with rape as a weapon of war on a scale seen nowhere else in the world.

But you can do something about it.

Tell President-Elect Obama to announce his plan to end sexual violence in Congo.

Eastern Congo is the worst place in the world to be a woman in 2008. Rape and sexual violence are routinely used as a weapon to destroy women, families, and communities. It is time to get serious about ending the conflict and protecting and empowering Congo’s women.

The US government is in a unique position to take action immediately. They can promote peace through aggressive diplomatic efforts, increase UN patrols and support organizations that help keep women safe, and work to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Oxfam America has joined with the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign to raise awareness about the crisis. And by adding your voice, you are helping to raise awareness about the horrors of this nine-year conflict.

Tell the president-elect to announce his plan to end the vicious cycle of sexual violence.

6:57 PM  
Blogger samuel mugunthan said...

very nice :) i like GOD'S commandment. like to live according to HIS commandments. i will pray for that and i will be happy if i be a tool for GOD to take part in HIS justice :) ALL THE BEST :)

9:58 PM  

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