This coming Tuesday is Remembrance Day, a day set aside to remember our armed forces who went to battle and those who died. Undeniably, it is also a day to remember the horrors of war in order to ensure that war does not happen again. After all, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana). But the unique and horrific impact of war on women is rarely acknowledged, or remembered.
Rape of women has been an aspect of war as long as war has existed, but only in this century has rape in war been acknowledged as a weapon. “In the 20th century, perceptions of rape in war have moved from something that is inevitable when men are deprived of female companionship for prolonged periods to an actual tactic in conflict.” (United Nations) In 2008, the UN recognized that rape is a weapon of war that is used specifically against women. The United Nation’s Resolution 1820 says, “Women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.” Yet this fact is still not widely recognized on Remembrance Day, the day to remember the atrocities of war.
This year, please take pause to remember the impacts of war on women: from rape as a weapon of war, to increased violence on the “home-front” after veterans return home, to rape that happens to women during “peacetime.” Please take a moment of silence to remember the devastation that war has on the lives of women, those that have died because of war as well as those whose lives are forever impacted by rape and violence against women in conflict.
“To remember is to end all war.”
Written by Carissa Ropponen, WAVAW Woman