February 2012

A boy in front of a sign illustrating the reasons behind the creation of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Wronged Women of Liberia Reluctant to Revisit Human Rights Abuses


Tamasin Ford
February 28, 2012

The women sat on plastic chairs arranged in a circle, some breast feeding, others with small children at their feet. This is their centre in Ganta, the dusty, vibrant commercial capital of Nimba county in north-east Liberia.

“Most of the women here were raped [during the war],” says Yarih Geebah, the speaker for Ganta Concerned Women. “But if you don’t have money, nothing happens. [For] we, the poor people, we who don’t know book … justice don’t prevail.”

Liberia went through a 14-year civil war in which people were forced to perform the most debased and cruel acts imaginable. Initial findings from a United Nations Development Programme/World Vision survey in 2004 estimated 40% of the country’s women were subjected to sexual violence, although other estimates suggest the figure is higher.

To read the full article at theguardian, click here.

To visit the Ganta Concerned Women via the photographs of Christopher Herwig, click here. (Select West Africa upon reaching his web site.)

Pakistani Director’s Look At Acid Attacks Strikes A Hopeful Note


Heather Maher
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

February 26, 2012


When Pakistani film director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy made “Saving Face,” she tackled one of the hidden taboos of her society: acid attacks by men on women. Now her film is competing for an Oscar on February 26. RFE/RL’s Heather Maher spoke with Chinoy about why she made the film.

To read the full interview at the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty site, click here.


Additional Information about “Saving Face:”

Film On Pakistani Acid Attack Victims And Their ‘Savior’ Competes For Oscar

Saving Face IMDB

Saving Face Official Web Site


“Saving Face” has won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Short Documentary. Take a look at the official trailer for the documentary below:


UN Report on Sexual Violence During Conflict Singles Out Worst Offenders


UN News Centre
February 23, 2012


The annual United Nations report documenting conflict-related sexual violence around the world today for the first time names some of the military forces, militia and other armed groups that are suspected of being among the worst offenders.

The groups listed in the report include the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in South Sudan, armed militia groups and former armed forces in Côte d’Ivoire, and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The report provides examples of how sexual violence has threatened security and impeded peacebuilding in post-conflict situations, such as in Chad, CAR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and how it has been used in the context of elections, political strife and civil unrest in Egypt, Guinea, Kenya and Syria, among others.

“Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent: it is a global risk. The terror of unarmed women facing armed men is age-old and universal,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Margot Wallström, who presented the report to the Security Council in New York.

The report stresses that over the past year there have been several new and ongoing armed conflicts where sexual violence was widespread and, in some instances, may have been systematically targeted at civilians by armed forces and armed groups with the intent of punishing, and humiliating the population.

To read the full article at the UN News Centre click here.

To read the Report of the U. N. Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (A/66/657 – S/2012/33), click here.

Eve Ensler Unveils
“One Billion Rising”


Marcia G. Yerman
Huffington Post
February 18, 2012

It hasn’t exactly been a stellar start to 2012 for American women. Rick Santorum’s theory that birth control is “harmful to women” would have Margaret Sanger spinning in her grave. Then there was Fox pundit Liz Trotta’s question to those who have been raped in the military, “What did you expect?” The landscape has appeared dismally pre-1970.

The bright spot was the immediate and visceral reaction from women on the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood imbroglio. It showed that social media is very much a force for organizing — a point overlooked by Komen founder Nancy Brinker when she haughtily dismissed pushback as “Internet chatter.”

Grasping the power of social media — along with the need to decisively move forward — playwright, activist, and feminist Eve Ensler has revitalized the terrain with her announcement on February 14 outlining the launch of the ONE BILLION WOMEN initiative. The yearlong action will culminate on February 14th, 2013, the fifteenth anniversary of V-Day. The goal is to have one billion women and men “dancing, striking, rising” across borders to demonstrate their demand to end the global violence against women.

To read the full article at the Huffington Post click here.

To read more about One Billion Rising, click here.

Rep. Speier on Military Rape and Fox News’ Dangerous Remarks



Are you a survivor of rape or sexual assault in the military? Congresswoman Speier is personally inviting you to share your story by e-mailing stopmilitaryrape@mail.house.gov.

If you choose to share your experience with the Congresswoman Speier, please indicate whether or not you are willing to give her your permission to share it on the House floor.



Liz Trotta: Thanks for the Laughs,
Now a Few Facts


Wendy Murphy
We•News   womensenews.org
February 24, 2012

When Fox News’ Liz Trotta tried to comment on the rise of rape in the military she turned herself into a laughing stock. Wendy Murphy would like to follow up with some serious ideas about who does and doesn’t belong on the front lines.

Fox News Channel’s Liz Trotta has by now taken plenty of heat and ridicule for expressing the idea that rape, for military women, is inevitable.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart has skewered her on the Daily Show, online activists are circulating a petition to stop blaming military rape survivors, and plenty of other columnists have added their own angles of derision.

But before the dust settles on this particular media faux pas, I’d like to add a few deadly serious facts to the discussion of who rapes and suffers rape in the military and who does and doesn’t belong in the military.

To read Wendy Murphy’s full commentary at the We•News site, click here.

Women in the Battlefield and the Barracks:
A Five-Part Series on Two War Fronts for Women Soldiers


H. Patricia Hynes
January – February 2012

The first decade of the 21st century was a record one for women serving in the US military: Women constituted 14 percent of all active duty military (over 200,000), with one in ten serving in the Middle East and 17 percent in the National Guard. Women soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, though barred from ground combat, have worked in as dangerous situations as men. These same women have found themselves, concurrently, the target of sexual assault by “brothers in arms” at nearly twice the rate of US society. Military sexual trauma is so severe that it is more likely to cause post-traumatic stress disorder in women than combat trauma and civilian sexual trauma – because of military culture.

In this series, “The Battlefield and the Barracks: Two War Fronts for Women Soldiers,” H. Patricia Hynes probes the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment of women in the military. What is it about military culture that results in such extreme sexual crime? Why is sexual assault so traumatizing for women soldiers? What are the responses of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to the epidemic of sexual crime in their midst, with its multiple health consequences? And what are the radical changes necessary to reform a recalcitrant military

Read the series of articles at the links below:

Introduction: “The Battlefield and the Barracks: Two War Fronts for Women Soldiers”

Why Do Soldiers Rape?

Military Sexual Abuse: A Greater Menace Than Combat

The Military and the Church: Bedfellows in Sexual Assault

Picking Up the Pieces From Military Sexual Assault

Reforming a Recalcitrant Military



Amy Goodman
Democracy Now!
January 30, 2012

On the heels of a new military survey that the number of reported violent sex crimes jumped 30 percent in 2011, with active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21 accounting for more than half of the of the victims, we speak with Trina McDonald and Kori Cioca, two subjects of “The Invisible War,” a new documentary that examines the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, which won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

“Not only was I astounded by the numbers, but when I started talking to the women and men who had experienced this, I was just so devastated by their stories,” says the film’s Academy Award-nominated director, Kirby Dick. “These are women and men who are very idealistic. They joined the military because they wanted to serve their country. They were incredible soldiers. And then, when they were assaulted, they had the courage to come forward, even though many people advised them not to,” Dick says.

For the full interview with Amy Goodman, visit the Democracy Now! web site, here.

To visit the site for the movie,  The Invisible War, click here.


An Updated Definition of Rape


Tracy Russo
U.S. Department of Justice
The Justice Blog
January 6th, 2012

The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.

In a victory for survivors of rape and their advocates, the Attorney General announced a newly revised definition of rape for nationwide data collection, ensuring that rape will be more accurately reported nationwide.

The change sends an important message to all victims that what happens to them matters, and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable. It was because of the voices of survivors, advocates, law enforcement personnel and many others that FBI Director Robert Mueller was able to make this important change within the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS).

“Forcible rape” had been defined by the UCR SRS as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, unchanged since 1927, was outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.

The new definition is: 

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

To read more about this change on The Justice Blog, click here.


U.S. to Expand Its Definition of Rape in Statistics,  New York Times,  January 6, 2012

Women in a War Zone:
Republicans Betray Survivors of
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence


Brooke Axtell
February, 15, 2012

Last week Republicans blocked the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the law that sustains national efforts to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Law enforcement and victim advocacy groups strongly support renewal of the law. Although it previously passed through Congress with bi-partisan support, this year not one Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of reauthorization.

To read the full piece at the She Negotiates blog on Forbes.com, click here.

Article thanks to Protect Our Defenders.com

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