* TW: This article contains content about sexual violence such as rape. Please read with caution.*
War and violence have become the sole defining factors of our world today. When conflict strikes and militaries prepare for action, we all must be conscious of those who pay the largest price.
Case Study of Gendered Violence & Covid-19
To ease into this conversation, let’s consider a more recent event that we can all relate to, COVID-19. During the pandemic, violence against women increased across the globe. Data showed increases in the United States, United Kingdom, and China, just to name a few. According to the World Health Organization, in times of crisis, such as the stay-at-home order in 2020, domestic violence reaches a spike; 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced some form of domestic violence from a partner or perpetrator, demonstrating the massive issue of violence against women is.
War and Sexual Violence
Violence grew against women during a pandemic, so, what happens during war? Unfortunately, using sexual violence against women has been a tactic of power for patriarchal systems to gain leverage in such times of conflict. Reflecting on the colonial age, Colombus himself facilitated girls into sexual slavery and permitted his men to rape countless women.
Colombus has been crowned as a praise-worthy historical figure and explorer. His name runs through the American education system like wildfire and rests on the tongues of countless children who are taught to idolize this man of violent offenses as a hero. Yet, his crimes against humanity are seemingly glossed over. This can be said historically and currently about countless individuals and groups concerning their crimes against women across the world.
Rape as a weapon
Looking at the present, we all must be aware that rape and sexual violence is a commonly used tactic in most, if not all, wars. As our eyes have turned towards the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we must consider all that we do not see, all of the voices that are silenced. A recording of a Russian soldier’s wife giving him permission to rape Ukrainian women recently went viral. Not only is this absolutely inhumane and despicable, but the worst part is, that this happens regularly and continually. This weapon of rape against women is a tactic that is at least as old as wars themselves.
War is Female Genocide
The United Nations considers war violence against women as an act of genocide, which is undeniably true. The inherent misogyny embedded in our society has impacted millions of women across the world, silencing their suffering, and turning a blind eye to the never-ending war on women. The UN concludes that war disproportionately harms women and children, with women bearing the brunt of the burden, pain, and trauma.
Viewer Discretion: Please read the following with care and compassion for these are not just numbers, they are individual women, and their suffering must be known to us. For if not, we deprive them of justice.
- Rwanda: 100,000-250,000 women were raped during the three-month-long genocide (1994) followed by much more violence such as sexual slavery, and other horrors which require care.
- Sierra Leone: more than 60,000 women were raped during the civil war (1991-2000). Not even in the public streets were these women safe from violent acts of sexual abuse.
- Liberia: 40,000 women were sexually exploited between 1989-2003
- Democratic Republic of Congo: at least 200,000 women were raped since 1998
These are only a few examples, as the records of violent crimes against women date back centuries. Rape has been used in WWII, the Holocaust, and has been used as a harmful tactic in countless other countries such as Bosnia, Peru, Kenya, India, and Turkey.
Rape is a crime against humanity, and against women; it is the genocide of women. Worst of all, rape is considered a legitimate tactic of war by many armies.
lifelong Suffering of women after war: Physical & Mental
After war, women are disproportionately affected, not only by trauma directly relating to the incident but also due to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and stigmatizations. There is also a lack of treatment facilities where survivors can seek medical care, psychological support, HIV treatment, economic aid, and most of all, legal relief.
Following these terrorizing periods, more brutality spreads in the form of sexual violence as a consequence of impunity and insecurity. We must demand justice for these women and demand these perpetrators face the consequences for their cruel and degrading crimes. Not only this, we must demand a revolution, not just reform. Armies cannot be given remission for employing such tactics, they must be halted altogether.
The world’s Misogyny is showing
This cruel act infiltrates all angles of our collective history– so one must examine how our world has come to view women as inferior, as they are clearly treated as such. To be having this conversation undoubtedly explicates the complete lack of humanity our world has adopted.
Think of Her.
So, next time you hear of the war in Ukraine, or any armed conflict for that matter, think of these women. They remain faceless, silenced, and exploited. But we all must give more time to consider who it is on the other side of the world, whom we do not know, but should nonetheless care for their wellbeing. For all you know, one day it could be someone whom you hold dear, and I know it is a most painful thought, but we should care for all women across the world and the harm they face because we are all humans, and we must act as such because if we continue in this way, our humanity will surely all be lost.
I understand this is a very difficult topic to read and discuss but it is too important not to. If you need any support or aid please visit:
- CARE offers 24/7 confidential support and advocacy in situations of sexual assault, dating, domestic violence, and stalking. CARE is located in the SRB and can be reached at (805) 893-4613 or online here.
- CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) offers 24/7 confidential mental health support to students. They can be reached by phone at (805) 893-4411, or online here. The CAPS building is the pink building next to the Humanities and Social Science Building (HSSB).
- Please reach out to The Nation Sexual Assault Hotline if you need support.
- Please look at these Sexual Violence Resources if you or anyone you know needs assistance or help.
Strife continues all across the globe as we speak, to help those affected by these conflicts please visit:
- To help those in Ukraine, tap here. To help Ukrainian women specifically, look here.
- A civil war in Cameroon has been occurring for over 5 years, learn/help by clicking here.
- To help women in Afghanistan, look here.
- A great site to look into for helping multiple regions includes Women for Women International