May 252007

The following is a guest blog cross-posted with kind permission from WIMN’s Voices by Sonali Kolhatkar,  host and producer of KPFK Pacifica’s popular morning drive time program Uprising and Co-Director of the Afghan Women’s Mission.


In a follow-up to my earlier blog posting about Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya, here is … *** An Urgent Message from the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya ***

In the past few weeks, after Malalai Joya’s return from a successful international tour and interview with a local TV station in Kabul, the warlords and criminals in the Afghan Parliament and Senate, tried hard to silence Joya and kick her out of the Parliament.

They have used one of her recent comments during an interview as a justification for their move. In the interview, she expressed that the Afghan Parliament is worse than an animal stable whose many members are the murderers and enemies of Afghan people.

On May 21, 2007, with a gross majority, the Parliament dominated by warlords and drug-lords suspended Joya for three years and ordered the High Court to file a case against her. They also directed the Interior Ministry to restrict her movements to within the country. This means she is not allowed to travel outside Afghanistan.

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 May 25, 2007  Posted by on May 25, 2007 Comments Off on Urgent Action Alert: Malalai Joya Needs Your Help
May 242007

A recent Chicago Tribune piece illustrates the horrific extent to which Iraqi women’s lives have been, for lack of a better word, de-valued.  In an article about the horrific stoning murder of Duaa Khalil Aswad we learn that rather than be outraged by this brutal crime, many Iraqis are angry that cell phone videos of the murder have incited retaliatory violence resulting in  the deaths of more than 20 men and that her death has been used for political purposes rather than seen as an “ordinary problem” as one Iraqi described it.  According to the  Tribune, the story of the stoning itself has received far less media coverage in Iraq than the murders that later took place in retaliation.

 May 24, 2007  Posted by on May 24, 2007 Comments Off on Iraqi Media Devalues the Lives (and Murders) of Women
May 232007

A recent study by the Department of Justice  found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than non-veterans.  When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Since the beginning of the patriarchal age, women have been considered the spoils of war, invisibilized under the euphemistic phrase, ‘collateral damage’. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations and post-conflict situations.  These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking.

Examples are not hard to find—the U.S. and Japanese use of comfort women during WWII, the Tailhook scandal, the sexual abuse problems at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the murders of military wives at Ft. Bragg, NC and Ft. Campbell, KY to name a few.  This latest statistic is clearly no accident, it a systemic part of a military culture that not only tolerates but frequently encourages the hatred and belittling of women.

What this study illustrates is that clearly the impact that militarism has on how men treat women does not end when a conflict is over, indeed the effects of militarism during post-conflict periods can also be quite grave.  Men returning from ‘war’ frequently transfer their entitlement to commit violence from the battlefield to their own communities.

While the military acknowledges the problem, it has also tried to cast the blame on such factors as the relatively young age of the offenders compared to the population at large and PTSD.  But neither explanation holds up in that this isn’t a problem of men beating up men. Nor is it a problem of female vets, many of whom also are young and/or suffer from PTSD (99% of incarcerated vets are male), committing sexual assault.  it is a problem of men beating up women.

It isn’t surprising that the DOJ feigns bafflement about these latest statistics.  For years now the problem of misogynist violence in the military has been the subject of lengthy reports and hearings, but yet the problem continues, and with very good reason—to cop an understanding of the issue and truly remedy the problem would require no less than a complete re-thinking of the ethos of military violence and how it exacerbates the global pandemic of violence against women.

 May 23, 2007  Posted by on May 23, 2007 4 Responses »
May 232007

Yanar Mohammed Receives Human Rights Award


The Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women’s Rights award was presented to Yanar Mohammed, the president of OWFI in recognition of her endeavors in voicing Iraqi women and protecting their rights in the post-war Iraq.

The award celebration was attended by an audience of 300 including key figures from Los Angeles on May 14 th. Four women were honored by this award for their achievement for women and human rights: Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and highest-ranking female in the Afghan government , Dr. Rebbecca Gomberts, founder of Women on Waves, a mobile clinic offering safe abortions and inspiring legalization campaigns internationally; and Laurie David, environmental leader and producer of the Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, in addition to Yanar Mohammed, the president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.

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 May 23, 2007  Posted by on May 23, 2007 Comments Off on Yanar Mohammed Receives Award