Violence against women is finally being recognized as the major international issue that it is. At the United Nations’ Conference on Human Rights (held in Vienna this summer), the hard work of feminist organisers paid off. The final Declaration of the conference stated that violence against women—in both public and in private—is a human rights abuse. The Declaration also recommended that the UN appoint a Special Rapporteur on violence against women. (You can read excerpts from WRI ‘s statement to the Conference against violence against women in the following pages).
The War Resisters’ International statement issued for the UN World Conference on Human Rights dealt with the Issues of refusing military conscription, the need to extend the right to asylum, and the issue of violence against women. Excerpts from the statement concerning this last issue are quoted here.
There is a movement growing in Cambodia, a people’s movement, led by women. It is a movement of peace and of people excited by the new possibilities dawning in their country. The possibility of laying down weapons after more than 20 years of war, where a new constitution may finally provide them with basic human rights. The movement began as a coalition of monks, nuns, women’s groups, student associations, development and human rights groups who were determined to seize the current unique opportunities in creating a new peace.
In November 1990 some of us and our friends (and friends of our friends) met for the first time in one of the local cafes. After that we met off and on, mostly in private flats. The number of activists varied.
Stasa Zajovic of the women’s anti-war group in Belgrade, Women in Black—Women Against War, was invited by other anti-war groups to the State of Spain this April. Stasa spoke in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and many other cities. Her talks were well attended (over 150 people at each public talk) and the tour received good press coverage. Most of all, solidarity between peace groups in the various countries was strengthened. The following is a compilation of several reports about her visit.
[Editor’s note: the dedicated women of CONNECT did an excellent job in identifying and raising funds for participants to last year’s WRI women’s conference. Much of the Conference’s success was due to their hard work.)
This is a short note to tell everyone that CONNECT has formally debriefed and disbanded—it no longer exists.
they’re going to give us our own postage stamp,
when i was in the air force
the men called us cunts and whores and said
that WAF==*== stands for women-all-fuck.
and my mama asked if it was true we were all lesbos
under our uniforms like my master-
sergeant uncle told her.
i said some of us are.
we stood proud around our flag at burials.
besides being whores and cents and lesbians
we were good soldiers.
we held our m-16s.
we shined our shoes.
Many readers who attended the WRI Women’s Conference in Bangkok last year will remember Hansa Mazgaonkar of Bombay, India. Hansa was part of a group of experienced Gandhians who went to Surat, in Gujurat state, after communal rioting there killed 200 people and left thousands homeless in January. She worked to ease tensions and to investigate abuses that occurred during the rioting. One such abuse was the gang rape of several Muslim women. The rape was pre-planned, as it was videotaped.
[Editor’s note: the concubine at Gibea refers to Judges 19 in the Bible. A traveller, staying overnight In Glbea, offers his concubine to a mob In order to prevent being assaulted himself. The concubine Is raped all night by the mob. The traveller cuts her dead body Into 12 pieces and sends them to his tribesmen, thus provoking a war against the Gibeans.)
I have something horrible to tell you, Hania: the concubine from Gibea came to my door dismembered, eyes gouged out.
A 30-year-old woman named Noorjahan was stoned to death in the village of Chatakchaara, Bangladesh in January. Noorjahan’s first husband had disappeared and her father had married her to another villager, against the wishes of the village religious leader, who wanted to marry her himself. He declared her second marriage invalid. The death sentence was decided on by the local village council.
Let the Good Times Roll: Prostitution and the US Military in Asia by Saundra Pollock Sturdevant and Brenda Stoltzfus (The New Press, New York, USA; 1993, 343 pages, US $24.95 paperback) is a collection of six essays (by Cynthia Enloe and Walden Bello, among others), plus interviews with five Korean, Okinawan and Filipina prostitutes, which examine the links between militarization and the oppression of women. The authors point out that unless ‘sexual imperialism’ is dealt with, no change of power will mean real autonomy for women in the region.