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History shows that war comes with all kinds of violence to the people involved in it. This violence can be in the form of killings by guns, bombs and the many hardships that come with it. Wars do not involve only men but also women. Many of these women who have gone through war experiences have had to live with fears of such violence.
To many of them, the greatest fear that has stayed with them is the fear of being harassed sexually where by those who resist risk being killed. In this paper we will discuss the fact that the greatest fear of women during times of war is not the killings and the hardships, but men.
Women and War
Women are the most affected victims during times of war. And if you thought that women soldiers are safe, then you are wrong. Women soldiers who have participated in wars have recounted horrible stories of being harassed by their men counterparts.
Many of the US female veterans of the war in Iraq when interviewed confirmed this allegation that rape by men soldiers was their greatest danger to the extent that they were routinely warned by their superiors about going out without an escort. Some soldiers resorted to carrying knives with them for protection.
A case to prove this point was given by Spc. Mickiela aged 21; when asked why a knife was her accompaniment, she said “The knife wasn’t for the Iraqis; it was for the guys on my own side.” (Benedict 1). Although there are no comprehensive statistics on these issues, the US DoD acknowledged that this is a serious problem. Measures have been put in place, but as the number of female soldiers increases, the problems also seems to increase.
Women are victimized
A report by Col. Janis Karpinski showed that three female soldiers died of dehydration because they refused to drinks liquids during the day. All this was because they feared that could be raped if they visited the latrines in the dark. In the US, female soldiers are prohibited by the pentagon from serving in ground combat, but this is not the case for those who have took part in wars in the Middle East. Women soldiers are exposed to equal risks just like men, and as if this is not enough, the men treat them as inferior and sex toys.
Many female soldiers have been sexually assaulted but did not report it for fear of being victimized or being punished if the assailant was their superior. In most cases, the superiors to whom the female soldiers report to are men. That is why most of the cases go unpunished. It is an issue of a woman’s word against the man’s, and the man’s word always prevails. It is all about covering up your comrade. Many atrocities are committed and go unpunished under the disguise of comradeship.
Men will protect their fellow men, the same is expected from women, but female soldiers are very few meaning that they depend on men for protection, men who are not trustworthy. A man will not protect a woman who refuses his advances, these forces female soldiers to cope with these assaults or risk being left alone (Benedict 1).
Men are a Danger
The story of the little girl who died by Sushma Joshi also confirms that men are the biggest danger to women during wars. It brings out the rage felt by a female Maoist guerrilla fighter, Ambika, who was on a mission to kill Major Krishna Basnet, a soldier in the Royal Nepal Army. Major Basnet was on a mission to smoke out the guerrillas from a village where Ambika and her group stayed. These soldiers are known for raping women they come across.
This is confirmed when the author says that “the three women were almost certain to face rape“(Joshi 1), this is in relation to the incidence where Ambika and her comrades had been captured and taken to the army barracks. That particular night, the major vents his disappointment of not finding the guerrillas on a helpless woman and her 7 year old daughter. He brutally murders the woman and the girl by shooting them. Ambika is confronted with the urge to shoot the Major and risk her life and those of her comrades.
She decides on the latter, this just shows how women fear and hate men to the extent that they would be willing to kill them if the situation allows. Just as in the case of the US female soldiers, war has changed Ambika into a different person, a person who will do anything to counter the cruelty of men (Joshi 1).
In the argument “the main purpose and outcome of war is injuring”, the author asserts that this fact has been ignored or omitted by many institutions especially the military. This omission has not helped but made it worse. The problem is not that it is hard to identify the issues on the ground, the path to disclosure and justice has always been met with resistance.
The author has cited the case of rape and sexual assault in times of war. Finding a solution has remained a problem not just on the side of the assailant, but also the victim. For instance, the way women choose to report or keep quite about the trauma of sexual harassments challenges the understanding of silence and agency (Tabea 129).
There are two stories which bring show women suffering clearly. In one we see a girl on a mission to revenge after witnessing an army general assault her mother. In the other story we see a woman who has after losing a child in a bombing, slapping a soldier in the face and crying out “That is it. You give us babies only to kill them later” (Linhard 1). This two incidences just show how ignoring or omitting the injustices that happen to the society can transform people.
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The mother’ rape, the search for revenge, the killing of the child, and the slapping of the soldier by the woman are all acts of physical violence. They have occurred in the public domain, but the worst violence is the one that occurs in the public domain. The manifestations of domestic violence are often tolerated and even encouraged. The victims of this violence are mostly women and children and the culprits, who are mostly men, usually go unpunished” (Linhard 1).
All the authors have shown that physical violence usually goes hand in hand with other forms of less explicit violence. Soldiers raping their female counterparts in the barracks, women being assaulted by men at home, are all forms of violence that usually go without punishment because victims do not report the cases for fear of losing their jobs, and being forced out of homes. Therefore, to a woman, man will always be the enemy that she is forced to deal with in her daily life regardless of whether it is at home or at work.
Benedict, Helen. The Private War of Women Soldiers. Salon.com. Middle East, 2007. Web.
Joshi, Sushma. The Little Girl Who Died. World Literature Today, 2010. Web.
Linhard, Alexa. A perpetual trace of violence: gendered narratives of revolution and war. Discourse [Detroit, MI], 2003. Web.
Tabea, Linhard. Fearless women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2005. Print.