Gray Panthers of San Francisco
April 2007 Newsletter

In Iraq and the US: Women and Children
as Casualties of War


On March 8, International Women’s Day was celebrated all around the world. It is not, however a recognized and honored day in the US. If women were respected and honored, maybe the insanity of war would not be vented with horrendous acts against women.

Some murders of Iraqi women and children at the hands of our servicemen have been brought to light, and some soldiers have been tried and convicted. Yet we can be certain that just as the reported numbers of all Iraqis killed in this war have been manipulated, so too have the many atrocities committed against women gone unreported. Unfortunately, the rape of women and children in times of wars and invasions has occurred throughout many centuries.

Does it surprise us that according to recent accounts these same anti-woman attacks are being committed against American servicewomen by some of our American servicemen! Helen Benedict, in an interview on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, documented evidence of sexual harassment and crimes endured by women in the military. Her findings reveal that 30% of women in the military are sexually assaulted and/or raped. It is very difficult and intimidating for women to report these acts, so some studies indicate there may be more. Women believe the US military as a whole and many of the commanding officers cannot be trusted to deal with the harassments and rapes. By all indications, sexual harassment now affects 90% of all servicewomen. The issue is not taken seriously and acts are condoned from the top down.

Rape and harassment are so pervasive that many women have resorted to endangering their own lives to avoid being assaulted. Out of fear of getting up in the dark to go out to use latrines, women have stopped drinking sufficient water in temperatures often reaching 120 degrees! Col Janis Karpinski testified that women actually died of dehydration! And, that these death reports are routinely altered to specifically say the deaths were NOT due to dehydration.

When life is revered and women are respected, we can truly put an end to war.

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