Yesterday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day.
To often when reporting on War the women involved, from those living in the invaded conflict countries to those who are serving in greater numbers and rolls, combat included, are not mentioned enough.
Nor is it brought up enough of the effects of Conflicts on these women involved.
The other day NPR’s The World had a report on about the women serving in Iraq and Afganistan.
The World’s Katy Clark reports on the challenges faced by female veterans after they return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them face mental health issues, but little is known about how they are coping.
You can listen to this report which can be played in the Windows Media Player.
One of many books on PTSD and as the title states also covering studies of combat PTSD on women.
A snippet of part of one review of book above:
“The men and women who follow orders to be sent thousands of miles from home, to fight wars in the most dangerous corners of the globe, are the very best America has to offer. They’ve seen destruction and chaos few others can imagine. And too many return home to their families struggling to make sense of their combat experiences and their personal lives. This book tells their stories in their own words and explores treatment options that will enable our nation to fulfill its promise to support our veterans.” – Lynn Woolsey, Member of Congress 6th District, California
I did a little searching and quickly found some interesting reads on women and war.
This story is about two young women who’ve never met. Christina Penrod, a Mahomet widow, and Stephanie James, a recent UI graduate and Army sergeant, have seen their lives stamped, shaped and unalterably changed by the events in a scorched part of the faraway Middle East called Iraq.
Rapes and other sexual crimes perpetrated against women in specific countries are a weapon of terror that prevent women – who are often left at home to mind children and tend to livestock – from being able to move freely within their own areas and thus get food, water and other necessities which their families depend upon.
Yet, this is just one example of the many ways that women bear the brunt of warfare – and are often the unaccounted for or hidden victims of conflict. Interviews conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross with widows of the Iraqi wars and the Bosnian war, show the impact of the loss of missing husbands on the lives of their wives long after these wars have ended.
What about the families and lives destroyed by our present invasions and occupations:
Heroines – the daily life of Iraq’s war widows
Written by: Iraqi women’s organisations
Eighty-two percent of the 2.4 million people displaced inside Iraq are women and young children under the age of 12. Many mothers have lost their husbands in the sectarian violence that has torn the nation apart. But in the face of adversity, they are proving to be true heroines.
These stories, collected by women’s organisations in Iraq ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, give a rare insight into how Iraqi widows are helping their families survive while retaining their dignity in times of extreme suffering.
“This phenomenon was hardly visible prior to 2003,” says Suhair. “We women face a lot of danger in doing this. The fear of having your children’s lives, your life taken away is constant… Your mind stops functioning when on your way to work you see a car near you and you fear it could explode.”
We seem to be shocked and enraged when we hear about women who become human bombs, yet we are shown little, to nothing, about their past, especially their recent past, how many have lost loved ones, especially children, to the bombs and bullets of war, and so much more. We act like women shouldn’t be considered as wanting to retaliate for what war has done to them and their lives, yet we have women serving and fighting!
Exhibit explores history of women in US military
Mementos of what life was once like for women serving in the military stared at Army National Guard Major Margaret Oglesby from the walls of the forward compartment of the second deck of the USS Massachusetts.
Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, Murray has spent many hearings questioning VA officials about female veterans with histories of sexual trauma, whether research has been done to determine their health needs and whether VA hospitals are so focused on men’s health issues that women get left behind.
They claim that women’s ideas, so often ignored, can actually move the world away from war and that feminine gifts, like tolerance and patience, can bring solutions that wars and weapons can never accomplish.
Just one of the many Pro-Peace womens groups, with a great Peace Symbol graphic:
Women Against War
Women Against War brings together Capital District women to work for peace through:
*Educational events on the costs of war and the possibilities of peace
*Outreach to area Muslims negatively impacted by US post 9/11 policies
Section covering the specific dangers and suffering confronting women in wartime, whose plight could be improved if the rules of humanitarian law were fully respected. Access to the ICRC study Women facing war as well as related resource materials and links to other sites concerning women.
Countless women and girls all over the world suffer the trauma of war – as widows or orphans, perhaps displaced from their homes, sometimes detained. They are often separated from loved ones and become victims of violence and intimidation.
For the most part they are civilians caught in the crossfire, and show astonishing resourcefulness and resilience in coping with the disintegration of their families, the loss of their home and their belongings and the destruction of their lives.
Women can also be fighters, and as such are due the same respect as men if wounded or captured. They are also bound by the same rules prohibiting illegal acts against other fighters or civilians.
International humanitarian law, which grants general protection to all war victims, regardless of gender, provides extensive specific protection for women in war. If these rules were better observed, the suffering faced by women in war would be greatly reduced.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), Florence Tercier, ICRC’s women and war adviser, explains the immensely challenging plight of women whose male relatives have gone missing in war and what the ICRC is doing to support them.
Women all over the world face great hardship when their male relatives go missing in war. Can you describe some of the challenges they face?
Women’s Military and War History: women who fought in the military officially and unofficially, women who served in support roles, plus how women’s roles changed for women who stayed home.
Women bear the children of this world, they carry the seeds of and nurture than give birth to the children. What about those children of war, the ones that survive?
According to Ali, the whole of Iraqi society, but especially the children, bear psychological scars from witnessing violence and death every day: “Iraq needs psychological help, too.”
The situation of women and childre is worst: “There are many nightmares and a fear of going outside. This is a real fear. Many children do not go to school anymore because of it. Also, it is said that US soldiers are detaining 200-500 “child convicts.”
“Domestic violence has increased, as has the number of widows. Since the occupation, the number of premature births and miscarriages has doubled. The number of caesarean births has increased because people are scared of uncontrollable situations. Women are weighed down with life and the stress of daily life has increased.”
Recently a video surfaced showing the training of children of the insurgency. Many condemn the treatment, and condemn it should be, but I doubt most of these kids need any propaganda brainwashing to turn them into a warrior. We’ve stolen all semblance of childhood of these kids, they’ve been living in the hell on earth of war, they’ve lost loved ones and friends, the hatreds have been embedded already, they are seeking a release of the anger and hatred, and the longer they live as they are the greater the want for retaliation and extreme blowback against those that have destroyed their lives!
After 5 years, Iraq war has changed little for some people; for others it’s changed everything
Laura Youngblood is just 29 years old, but she insists she will not remarry. Her life is her children, now ages 2 and 7. One day, she says, she’ll be buried in the plot with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I tell people I’m a happily married woman,” she says, crying.
In a country destroyed, what are we leaving those who survive this carnage, and what will the future bring for all of us!
She is 16 years old and slowly bleeding to death internally.
Her mother speaks about her daughter with desperately pleading eyes. “Her blood is sick,” she says, standing in the doorway of the local clinic near the Dora market in Baghdad, talking about her daughter’s infection that the clinic’s rudimentary antibiotics won’t defeat. Dr. Mohammad, who runs the facility, is certain of two things: that his patient doesn’t have long to live and that there is very little he can do about it without the trained surgeons Jasim needs for an operation.
A country, though living under a brutal dictator, we helped install and supported, that was well educated and fairly prosperous!