A decade ago, BBC News reported: Women’s bodies have become part of the terrain of conflict, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
Rape and sexual abuse are not just a by-product of war but are used as a deliberate military strategy, it says.
The opportunistic rape and pillage of previous centuries has been replaced in modern conflict by rape used as an orchestrated combat tool.
So what motivates armed forces, whether state-backed troops or irregular militia, to attack civilian women and children?
Gita Sahgal, of Amnesty International, told the BBC News website it was a mistake to think such assaults were primarily about the age-old “spoils of war”, or sexual gratification.
Rape is often used in ethnic conflicts as a way for attackers to perpetuate their social control and redraw ethnic boundaries, she said.
“Women are seen as the reproducers and carers of the community,” she said.
“Therefore if one group wants to control another they often do it by impregnating women of the other community because they see it as a way of destroying the opposing community.”
David Sheen writes: As Israel’s latest assault on Gaza enters its third week, the destructive force unleashed upon the Strip has taken a massive toll, leaving over 650 Palestinians dead, over 4,200 wounded – mostly civilians – and over a hundred thousand homeless. As Gaza is pummeled, the level of anti-Palestinian racist incitement from top Israeli political, religious and cultural figures continues to ring at peak pitch, and has taken on a dangerous misogynistic tone.
On July 21, Israeli media reported that Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of the West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba, issued a religious edict on the rules of engagement during wartime, which he sent to the country’s Defense Minister. The edict stated that according to Jewish religious law, it is permissible to bomb innocent Palestinian civilians and “to exterminate the enemy.”
While Lior is held in high regard, he is also associated with religious Zionism’s “conservative wing.” By contrast, David Stav, Chief Rabbi of the town of Shoham is considered to be a leader of religious Zionism’s “liberal” stream. In an op-ed published the same day news of Lior’s edict broke, Stav characterized the assault on Gaza as a holy war, which is mandated by the Torah itself and must be merciless.
While these leading religious figures called for wars of extermination, some secular Israelis suggested carrying out attacks of a more perverse nature.
The day after Lior and Stav made headlines, news emerged that the City Council of Or Yehuda, located in Israel’s coastal region, printed out and hung a banner supporting Israeli soldiers. The display included language suggesting the rape of Palestinian women. The text of the banner read: “Israeli soldiers, the residents of Or Yehuda are with you! Pound ‘their mother and come back home safely to your mother.” [Continue reading…]