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Women and the military

February 1, 2010

Recent surveys have found that a third of women in the US military have been raped while serving, and 90% say they have been sexually harassed. In the rare occurence of a rape being reported and prosecuted then the rapist can genuinely expect lenient punishment.  In fact standard operating procedures are based on the assumption that female personnel will be raped by fellow personnel:

Army specialist Chantelle Henneberry spoke of some of her experiences in Iraq, “Everybody’s supposed to have a battle buddy in the army, and females are supposed to have one to go to the latrines with, or to the showers – that’s so you don’t get raped by one of the men on your own side. But because I was the only female there, I didn’t have a battle buddy. My battle buddy was my gun and my knife.”

More details on Service Women’s Action Network – SWAN including a Democracy Now video which shows how essential the military finds women in the field – apart from their use  by their rapist colleagues – and how female veterans are even less likely than male veterans are to be supported when they come back from service.

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Chilling accounts from 96 female Israeli IDF soldiers serving in Palestine have been released by Breaking the Silence. Ynet magazine carries some of these accounts which include systematic humiliation of Palestinians, reckless and cruel violence, theft, killing of innocent people and cover-up. Truly disgusting, and deeply unsettling read which begins thus:

“A female combat soldier needs to prove more…a female soldier who beats up others is a serious fighter…when I arrived there was another female there with me, she was there before me…everyone spoke of how impressive she is because she humiliates Arabs without any problem. That was the indicator. You have to see her, the way she humiliates, the way she slaps them, wow, she really slapped that guy.”

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The BBC on Wednesday published three accounts from mothers who have lost their sons as a result of the ridiculous willy waving war of terror being engaged in Afghanistan: Judy Gaden, mother of British Soldier Corporal Tom Gaden, and also accounts from anonymous mothers of an Afghan national army soldier and a Taliban soldier. These accounts are powerful and can only confirm the futility of war.  But, they are being used in a strange way by the BBC and some of the words from Judy Gaden did stick in my craw:

He [Tom] believed that he was fighting to improve the country for the people of Afghanistan, knowing what a free life we have in the UK. There might be hardships here, but not on the scale of Afghanistan.  And Tom passionately believed that through training these soldiers he could improve the standard of living for the people in Afghanistan. 

I feel very sorry for the mothers of Taliban fighters because I think it must be exceptionally hard to know that your son has been recruited for a cause where only one point of view has been put across.  To find you have lost your son in those circumstances must be much much worse than if they were fighting for the British or the Afghan national army and my heart goes out to you.  I feel that too much pressure has been put on the young men in particular to fight for a cause that hasn’t been truly  explained to them.

I think it is a shame that these boys can’t be better informed and I hope they can be so they can make a more mature decision about how they want to make their career choices.

There are soldiers who do understand what is happening in Afghanistan such as L/Cpl Joe Glenton, but I don’t think that is what Judy Glenton means, and not what the BBC wants to highlight.

Speaking of pressure being put on young people to ‘fight for their countries’, or for the interests of the ruling classes, it scares me to think back to September 2001 and my sister seriously considering joining the TA as a method of funding the degree to which she was academically suited as a straight A grade student, but financially completely ill suited as a member of the working class.  If my sister had taken up this method of funding she would now be dead or seriously damaged from millitary service in an illegal war.  More here on how the military prey on working class women and men to fight the causes of the ruling classes.  Luckily for my sister her family disuaded her from following this horrific course of action so instead of being used by the military she now has a ridiculous amount of debt – thanks to those who received free HE education stopping it for those who came after them.  Also see here to view how Austria chooses to use women to recruit young men in an ‘informed’ way.

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Funny really how the military propaganda pretends to incorporate families into their idealogy.  Alexis Hutchinson obviously doesn’t factor into these idealogies as she is now facing jail for choosing to look after her son who had no other source of care (after previous childcare arrangements failed) when his mother was ordered to deploy to Afghanistan.  But then Alexis is from a poor family and is young, black and a single parent as Courage to Resist notes:

Alexis joined the Army in 2007. She is currently a cook (92G-Food Service Specialist) with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division stationed near Ft. Stewart, Georgia.

A few conservative websites have taken notice of growing public outrage over this case. Some have attacked Alexis because she is young black woman who got pregnant soon after basic training, yet she choose to remain the Army! Another blames her because Kamani’s father is not a part of their lives. Some incredulously ask if we would support a young male soldier in a similar situation (yes—we would). Alexis’ only real mistake was believing the military’s “family friendly” recruiting sales pitch

Yes that’s right, she is a cook!  Not a highly trained military expert but a cook!  Obviously it is very important to deploy her asap and put her child in foster care, because we all know that children are logistical units and being a mother is to refuse to contribute to the GDP.  More details here.

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RAWA consistently show how the wily waving war of terror on Afghanistan further damages women, despite  the propaganda and outline how Afghani women still face a terrible future:

Women were promised greater protection after the invasion of Afghanistan, but Nima Elbagir finds an increasing number have forced to self-inflict injuries to escape abuse.

When the Taliban were still in power the liberation of Afghanistan’s women was a cause celebre in the west – a moral justification for the invasion.

Yet by the end of last year the United Nations was worriedly reporting that the number of violent incidents against women had risen to their highest since the fall of the Taliban.

Two democratic elections and billions of dollars later and in spite of the best declared intentions of the international community, women here still lack many basic rights.  More here.

Seems war and occupation isn’t the best way of improving human rights.  Who knew!  UK warmongers couldn’t have possibly been expected to remember the previous UK interfering, interventions and wars they waged in Afghanistan could they?  Bear this in mind when reading about America’s new occupation in Haiti – the first occupation didn’t go so well, but why should we remember that in our myopic brave new world.  Wolves in wolves clothing, the whole dam kaki cladded lot of them.

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President Obama again promises to repeal the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’  (DADT) federal law.  Don’t hold your breath that this will be anytime soon though.    In the meantime, if you fancy a laugh go read Stephanie Guttman’s intrepretation of how PC the American military is and how in her view repealing DADT isn’t necessary.  I wonder if Guttman has ever heard of Aafia Siddiqui, or Guantanamo Torture Camp?  She must have a real special Gitmo spin!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 19:54

    Guttman is a slightly infamous rightist, whose writings are appreciated on white supremacy sites, Hasbara sites and is on Fox/Limbaugh occasionally. On Gaza she disputed the casualty figures, a real humanitarian. Nice to see the Torygraph showing their true colours.

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