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Violence against Women is Integral to War and Armed Conflict: The Urgent Necessity of the Universal Implementation of UNSCR 1325 - March 13, 2013

A Statement on Military Violence against Women addressed to the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, March 4-15, 2013

(This statement is an abstract for a longer paper being prepared for publication. The assertionsthat comprise the arguments of this statement derive from literature on gender and peace.)

Violence against women (VAW) under the present system of militarized state security is not an aberration that can be stemmed by specific denunciations and prohibitions. VAW is and always has been integral to war and all armed conflict. It pervades all forms of militarism. It is likely to endure so long as the institution of war is a legally sanctioned instrument of state, so long as arms are the means to political, economic or ideological ends. To reduce VAW; to eliminate its acceptance as a “regrettable consequence” of armed conflict; to exorcize it as a constant of the “real world” requires the abolition of war, the renunciation of armed conflict and the full and equal political empowerment of women as called for by the UN Charter.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was conceived as a response to the exclusion of womenfrom security policy making, in the belief that that exclusion is a significant factor in the perpetuation of VAW. The originators assumed that VAW in all its multiple forms, in ordinary daily life as well as in times of crisis and conflict remains a constant because of women’s limited political power. Constant, quotidian VAW is unlikely to be significantly reduced until women are fully equal in all public policy making, including and especially peace and security policy. The universal implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security is the most essential means to reduce and eliminate the VAW that occurs in armed conflict, in preparation for combat and its aftermath. Stable peace requires gender equality. Fully functioning gender equality requires the dissolution of the present system of militarized state security. The two goals are inextricably linked one to the other.

To understand the integral relationship between war and VAW, we need to understand some of the functions that various forms of military violence against women serve in the conduct of war. Focusing on that relationship reveals that the objectification of women, denial of their humanity and fundamental personhood encourages VAW in armed conflict, just as dehumanization of the enemy persuades armed forces to kill and wound enemy combatants. It also reveals that the outlawing of all weapons of mass destruction, ending the arms trade, the reduction of weaponry, an end to the arms trade and other systematic steps toward General and Complete Disarmament (GCD) are essential to the elimination of military VAW. This statement seeks to encourage support for disarmament, international law and the universal implementation of UNSCR 1325 as instruments for the elimination of MVAW.

War is a legally sanctioned tool of state. The UN Charter calls upon members to refrain from the threat and use of force (Art.2.4), but also recognizes the right of defense (Art.51) None-the-less most instances of VAW are war crimes. The Rome Statute of the ICC includes rape as war crime. However, the fundamental patriarchalism of the international state system perpetuates impunity for most perpetrators. So the full extent of the crimes, their relationship to the actual waging of war and the possibilities for the enforcement of the criminal accountability of those who have committed them need to be brought into the discussions on the prevention and elimination of VAW. A greater understanding of particular manifestations of these crimes may lead to some fundamental changes in the international security system conducive to ending war itself. To promote such understanding here are listed some forms and functions of military VAW.

Identifying Forms of Military Violence and their Functions in Warfare

Listed below are several forms of military violence against women (MVAW) committed by military personnel, rebels or insurgents, peace keepers and military contractors, suggesting the function each serves to carry out the purposes of the war. The core concept of violence from which these types and functions of military violence are derived is the assertion that violence is intentional harm, committed to achieve some purpose of the perpetrator. Military violence comprises those harms committed by military personnel that are not a necessity of combat, but none-the-less an integral part of it. All sexual and gender based violence is outside actual military necessity. It is this reality that is recognized in the Beijing Platform for Action and the Security Council resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889 that seek to curb MVAW.

Included among the types of MVAW identified below are: military prostitution, trafficking andsexual slavery; random rape in armed conflict and in and around military bases; strategic rape; the use of military arms to inflict violence against women in post-conflict as well as conflict situations; impregnation as ethnic cleansing; sexual torture; sexual violence within the organized military and domestic violence in military families; domestic violence and spouse murders by combat veterans. No doubt there are forms of MVAW not taken into account here.

Military prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women have been features of warfare throughout history. At present brothels can be found around military bases and at the sites of peace-keeping operations. Prostitution - usually work of desperation for women – is openly tolerated, even organized by the military, as essential to the “morale” of the armed forces. Sexual services are deemed essential provisions for waging war to strengthen the “fighting will” of the troops. Military sex workers are frequently victims of rape, various forms of physical abuse and murder.

Trafficking and sexual slavery is a form of VAW that stems from the idea that sexual services are necessary to fighting troops. The case of the “comfort women,” enslaved by the Japanese military during WWII is the best known, perhaps the most egregious instance of this type of military VAW. More recently, trafficked women have been literally enslaved in conflict and postconflict peace-keeping operations. Women’s bodies are used as military supplies. Viewing and treating women as commodities is absolute objectification. Objectification of other human beings is standard practice in making war acceptable to combatants and civil populations of nations at war.

Random rape in armed conflict and around military bases, an expected and accepted consequence of armed conflict, illustrates that militarism in any form increases the possibilities of sexual violence against women in militarized areas in “peace time” as well as war time. This form of military VAW has been well documented by Okinawa Women Act against Military Violence. OWAAMV has recorded the reported rapes of local women by American military personnel from the invasion in 1945 to the present. The consequence of the misogyny that infects military training, when it occurs in war it functions as an act of intimidation and humiliation of the enemy.

Strategic and mass rapes - like all sexual assaults – intends to inflict violence as a mean ofhumiliating, not only the actual victims, but, most especially their societies, ethnic groups, and/or nations. It is also intended to lessen the adversary’s will to fight. As a planned assault on the enemy, large scale rape is a form of military violence against women, usually inflicted en masse in attacks that demonstrate the objectification of women as property of the enemy, military targets rather than human beings. It serves to shatter the social cohesion of the adversary in that women are the base of societal relationships and domestic order.

Military arms as instruments of VAW are used in the rape, mutilation, and murder of noncombatant women. Weapons are often the emblems of manhood, conceived within patriarchy, as tools for enforcing male power and dominance. The numbers and destructive power of weapons are a source of national pride in the militarized state security system, argued to provide defensive deterrence. The militarized masculinity of patriarchal cultures makes access to weapons an enticement to many young men to enlist in the military.

Impregnation as ethnic cleansing has been designated by some human rights advocates as a formof genocide. Significant instances of this type of MVAW have occurred before the eyes of the world. The military objective of these rapes is to undermine the adversary in several ways, the main one being by reducing the future numbers of their people and replacing them with the offspring of the perpetrators, robbing them of a future and a reason to continue to resist.

Sexual torture, psychological as well as physical, is meant to terrorize the civilian population of an enemy nation, ethnic group or an opposing political group, intimidating them so as to gain compliance to occupation or to discourage civilian support of the military and strategic actions of the opposing group. It is often inflicted on the wives and female family members of opposing political forces, as has happened in military dictatorships. It manifests the general misogyny of patriarchy intensified during war so as to reinforce objectification of women and “otherness” of the enemy.

Sexual violence in military ranks and domestic violence in military families has recently become more widely publicized through the courage of victims, women who have risked their military careers and further harassment by speaking out. Nothing makes more obvious the integral relationship of VAW to war, preparation for it and post conflict than its prevalence within the ranks of the military. While not officially condoned or encouraged, it has been allowed to continue, serving to maintain the secondary and subservient position of women, and the intensification of aggressive masculinity, idealized as military virtue.

Domestic violence and spouse murder by combat veterans occurs on the return of veterans of combat. This form of MVAW is especially dangerous because of the presence of weapons in the home. Believed to be a consequence of both combat training and PTSD, DV and spouse abuse in military families derives from the systemic and integral role of VAW in the psychology of somewarriors and symbolizes extreme and aggressive masculinity 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The present system of militarized state security is an ever present threat to the human security of women. It will continue so long as states claim the right to engage in armed conflict as a means to the ends of the state, and so long as women are without adequate political power to assure their human rights, including their rights to security. The ultimate means to overcome that threat is the abolition of war and the establishment of gender equality. Some of the tasks we now may undertake toward this end are: the implementation of the Security Council resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889 intended to reduce and mitigate MVAW; actualizing all of the possibilities of UNSCR 1325 with emphasis on the political participation of women in all matters of peace and security; pursuing measures that hold promise of achieving and end to war itself, such as the following recommendation for the outcome document of CSW 57.

Among these tasks recommended are measures to end violence against women and measures that are steps toward the end of war:

1. Immediate compliance by all member states with the provisions of UNSCR 1325 requiring women’s political participation in the prevention of armed conflict.

2. Development and implementation of National Action Plans to actualize the provisions and purposes of UNSCR 1325 in all relevant circumstances and at all levels of governance - local through global.

3. Special emphasis should be placed on immediate implementation of the anti VAW provisions of UNSCR resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889.

4. End impunity for war crimes against women by bringing to justice all perpetrators of MVAW, be they national forces, insurgents, peacekeepers or military contractors.

5. Conclude and implement an arms trade treaty to end the flow of weapons, many of which are used as instruments of MVAW.

6. GCD should be declared the primary goal of all arms treaties and agreements that should be formulated with a view toward reduction of MVAW, the universal renunciation of armed force, and with the full participation of women as called for by UNSCR1325.

7. Inaugurate a global campaign to educate about VAW, including special focus on MVAW, assuring that all members of all military, peacekeeping forces and military contractors are educated about MVAW and the legal consequences risked by perpetrators.

Drafted by Betty Reardon with endorsement from: 

Organization / Institutional Endorsements
1. International Peace Bureau (Nobel Laureate organization)
2. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
3. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
4. Pax Christi International
5. Global Fund for Women
6. Women Peacemakers Program (WPP), Hague, Netherlands
7. International Institute on Peace Education
8. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Netherlands
9. World Council for Curriculum and Instruction
10. People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning, USA
11. Feminist Scholar/Activist Network on Demilitarization
12. Global Kids, USA
13. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
14. Peace Action, USA
15. DidiBahini, Nepal
16. Shantimalika, Nepal
17. Permanent Peace Movement
18. Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict
19. Women Engaged in Action on 1325
20. Engender
21. Liga de Mujeres Desplazados, Colombia
22. Women in Black Belgrade
23. Peace Education Center, Miriam College, Manila, Philippines
24. Ashta no Kai, India
25. Asian Circle 1325
26. Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, Japan
27. Latin American & Caribbean Committee for the Defense of the Human rights of Women
28. Femlinkpacific
29. Sansristi, India
30. Nepal International Consumers Union31. Pacific Network for Peace and Disarmament
32. Sonke Gender Justice Network (by Bafana Khumalo)
33. Women’s UN Report Network
34. South Asian Forum for Human Rights
35. The Prajna Trust, Chenai (by Rita Manchanda)
36. JASS (Just Associates)
37. Manipur Women Gun Survivors
38. Red de Educacion Popular Entre Mujeres de Latinoamerica y Caribe (REPEM LAC)
39. Interfaith Council of New York
40. UNESCO Chair for Peace – University of Puerto Rico
41. Peace Geeks, Canada
42. Alianza de Mujeres Viequenses, Puerto Rico
43. Colectivo lle` (an anti-racist women’s collective in Puerto Rico)
44. Ma'a Fafine mo e Famili Inc. / femlink
45. Women's Active Museum on War and Peace, Japan
46. Women Making Peace, South Korea
47. National Peace Academy, USA
48. Sierra Leone Peace Alliance and Salone Foundation
49. The Center for Nonviolence and Democratic Education, University of Toledo OH, USA
50. CONNECT, USA
51. Operation 1325, Sweden
52. SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, Belgium
53. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Philippines
54. Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
55. Mindanao Peaceweavers, Philippines
56. SERAPAZ, Servicios y Acesoria para la Paz A.C., Mexico
57. Nansen Dialogue Centre Montenegro
58. Nansen Dialogue Centre Serbia
59. Northeast Asian Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI), South Korea
60. CIASE, Colombia
61. Center for Serenity, USA
62. Women Peace Initiatives-Uganda
63. Women Problems Research Union-Woman's Institute, Azerbaijan
64. The Peaceful Educator Foundation, USA
65. Nonviolence International, Canada
66. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
67. Naga Women's Union, India
68. Basel Peace Office, Switzerland
69. US Peace Council
70. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War - Turkey
71. Women in Peacebuilding Network, WANEP Nigeria
72. CHILDREN-Nepal
73. gmcop: Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, USA
74. Peace Boat, Japan
75. Center for Constitutional Rights, USA
76. Alternatives to violence, Bogotá, Colombia
77. Schools of Peace Foundation, Colombia
78. Peace Support Network, USA
79. Akson Nepal
80. Asian Circle 1325, Philippines
81. Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University (IPSS AAU), Ethiopia
82. Peace Union of Finland
83. Latin American Circle of International Studies (LACIS), Mexico84. National Ethical Service, USA
85. Women4NonViolence in Peace+Conflict Zones, Norway
86. CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AND ACTION ON PEACE (KEDE), Greece
87. DarfurWomen Action Group, USA
88. Partners in Sustainable Development, Pakistan
89. Non State Actors Forum-Zimbabwe
90. Eugene City of Peace, USA
91. School Sisters of Notre Dame, USA
92. IHAN: International Health Awareness Network, USA
93. Network of African Youth for Development - Ghana
94. World Vision Advocacy Forum (WVAF), Nepal
95. Philippine Women's Network for Peace & Security
96. Centre For Peace Education Manipur (CFPEM), India
97. PAN-Africa Peace Associates Network, Uganda
98. Sonke Gender Justice Network, South Africa/Burundi
99. African Migrant Women Association in South Africa (AMWASA)
100. Global Campaign for Peace Education, USA
101. ECCHR: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
102. Peace Foundation Disarmament and Security Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
103. CDSC (Civilian Defence Research Center), Italy
104. The Ribbon International, USA

Individual Endorsements
(Institutions listed for identification purposes only)

1. Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chair, Nobel Women's Initiative, USA
2. Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, Ireland
3. Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya Research Foundation for Science and Technology, India
4. Alyn Ware, 2009 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, New Zealand
5. András Bíró, 1995 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, Hungary
6. Anwar Fazal, 1982 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, Malaysia
7. Shrikrishna Upadhaya, 2010 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, Nepal
8. Riane Eisler, Center for Partnership Studies, USA
9. MinouTavarez Mirabel, MP, Dominican Republic; Chair, International Council, Parliamentarians for Global Action
10. Peter Weiss, Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights
11. Prof. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai University
12. Saloni Singh , Didibahini, Nepal
13. Samita Karmacharya, Lalitpur Women Forum, Nepal
14. Namuna Kahadga, PEACE, Nepal
15. Kanti Bajracharya, Kathmsndu Mahila Manch, Nepal
16. Sarita Kuwar, Bhaktapur, Nepal
17. Manju Chaudhary, WPEDE, Parsa, Nepal
18. Tony Jenkins, National Peace Academy, USA
19. Prof. Anita Yudkin, University of Puerto Rico
20. David J. Ragland, USA
21. Janet Gerson, International Institute on Peace Education, USA
22. Edward Kamara, Sierra Leone Peace Alliance & Salone Fdn
23. Lapang Chrisantus Defuna'an, Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies,University of Jos, Jos Plateau State, Nigeria
24. Tina Ottman, Kyoto University, Japan
25. Victor Grizzaffi, USA
26. Janet Weil, CODEPINK, USA
27. Julie Ngozi Okeke, Women Initiative For Peace & Good Governance (WIPGG), Nigeria
28. Jeffrey R. Heeney, Canada
29. Margaret S. Fairman, USA
30. Steven Gelb, University of San Diego, USA
31. Dale Snauwaert, The University of Toledo, USA
32. Larry M Warren, United Methodist Church, USA
33. Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Norway
34. Lisa Worth Huber, Academic Director, MA program Conflict Transformation, USA
35. Ra Savage, New Zealand
36. Lynida Darbes, USA
37. Mary Lee Morrison, Pax Educare Consulting, USA
38. Michael Abkin, National Peace Academy, USA
39. Dr Lisa S Price, Canada
40. Damilola Agbalajobi, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
41. Stephanie Van Hook, USA
42. Aaranya Rajasingam, Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Sri Lanka
43. Jill Strauss, USA
44. Mark Chupp, Case Western Reserve University, USA
45. Shazia Rafi, Secretary General, Parliamentarians for Global Action
46. Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY, USA
47. Alfred L. Marder, President, International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, USA
48. Jalna Hanmer, United Kingdom
49. Kelly Guinan, USA
50. Brian J Trautman, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice, USA
51. Professor Alicia Cabezudo, UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DE ROSARIO , Rosario - Argentina
52. Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaytan, Philippines
53. Madelyn MacKay, Voice of Women for Peace Canada
54. Miriam Saage, Germany
55. G. Gala, gcmp, Canada/USA
56. Christine Newland, Canada
57. Sofia Giranda, University of Jember, Indonesia
58. Erin Niemela, USA
59. Richard Matthews, Canada
60. Unto Vesa, TAPRI, Finland
61. Cécile Barbeito Thonon, peace educator, Escola de Cultura de Pau (School for a Culture of Peace ), Spain
62. Danielle Goldberg, Program on Peace-building and Rights, Columbia University, USA
63. J.V. Connors, Ph.D., USA
64. Mrs. Eryl Court, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Canada
65. Alba Arrieta, Colombia
66. Donna Torsu, Atlas Corps, Ghana
67. Dr. Shyrl Topp Matias, USA
68. Kazuyo Yamane, Japan
69. Rev. Dr. Priscilla Eppinger, USA
70. Cecilia Deme, Kurve Wustrow, Hungary
71. Som Prasad Niroula, Nepal Institute of Peace (NIP), Nepal
72. Tigist Yeshiwas, IPSS, AAU, Ethiopia
73. Chieko Baba, Seisen University, Japan
74. Daniela Rippitsch, Austria
75. Anitta Kynsilehto, University of Tampere, Finland
76. Lynne Woehrle, USA
77. Kristin Famula, National Peace Academy, USA
78. Dehanna Rice, USA
79. Jacqueline Stein, USA
80. Bev Tittle-Baker, USA
81. I Spellings, GMCoP, USA
82. Mintze van der Velde, Switzerland
83. Irene Dawa, Uganda/Italy
84. Bianca Cseke, Romania
85. Rachel E. McGinnis, USA
86. Shahla TabassumFatima Jinnah Women University, The Mall, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
87. Donna J. McInnis, Soka University, USA/Japan
88. Wim Laven, Instructor of Conflict Resolution, USA
89. Miass Abdelaziz , Sudan
90. Amel Aldehaib, Sudan

91. Anam Mushtaq, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Pakistan

92. Alisa Klein, USA
93. Dr Morgan Jeranyama, Non State Actors Forum-Zimbabwe
94. Beverley Stewart, International Anglican Women's Network, Canada
95. Chizuru Asahina, Japan
96. Carlyn Jorgensen, USA
97. Ifigenia Georgiadou, Greece
98. Charles Christopher Weisbecker, USA
99. Staci M Alziebler-Perkins, NYC Genocide Prevention Coalition, USA
100. Jeff Garringer, USA
101. Jamie Snyder, USA
102. Denay Ulrich, USA
103. Rana Ehtisham Rabbani, GAMIP, Pakistan
104. Aida Santos Maranan, WEDPRO, Inc., Philippines
105. Mary Hope Schwoebel, USA
106. Genoveva Evelyn (Gennie) Ramos, New Zealand
107. Leban Serto, India
108. Signe Atim Allimadi, Gulu, Northern Ugadna
109. Danilo B. Galang, Philippines
110. Gedefaw, Zewdu Belete, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
111. Lauren Wadsworth, USA
112. Guyo Liban, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Kenya
113. Luisa Ribeiro, Portugal
114. Matthew Johnson, USA
115. M. Madasamy (IPBIM), Guiness World Records Holder, Member, International Peace Bureau, India
116. Emily Doherty, Ireland
117. Susan Mason, USA 

 

Date: 
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Resource Type: