It is a fact that if there is a matter that remains ignored, it is that of war against women. So ignored is the matter that pertinent terms such as Gender justice is totally unfamiliar to many. That war crime against women is a serious matter is a fact that is well underlined by the fact that The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the moment takes pertinent cases whenever national judicial systems are seen not to function properly. It is pointed out by experts such as French (2003) that the fact that many people directly associate gender justice with femininity is one of the reasons that underpin the much ignorance that exists on war against women, since this state of affair makes the same as a diminutive form of justice.
Some Facts on War against Women (WAW)
Apart from the aforementioned and previously elaborated ignorance on War Crimes Against Women, there are statistics that clearly indicate the gravity of the same. According to Joan Chittister, at the inceptive stages of the 20th century, the civilians among war casualties accounted for 5%. During World War I, the amount of civilians among these war casualties rose up to 15%. The number of the same sharply from the 15% to 65% as whole cities became bombing targets in the wake of World War II.
In almost the same wavelength, during the cold war era (1950s), civilians accounted for 75% of these war deaths. Nevertheless, most interestingly and ultimately, at the present, 90% of the casualties of human wars are indeed civilians, but the majority of this group comprises women and children.
Underpinnings of WAW
It is necessary to take to stock, the fact that War Crimes Against Women is a development that takes many forms. Mostly, War Crimes Against Women has taken place in the form of domestic gender violence, a case that is mostly underpinned by culture and cultural diversity, discrimination in the distribution of values of economic significance, vehement and illogical opposition to women in peace processes, killing and victimization of women in war torn areas and rape, among a host of others.
At the same time, it remains imperative to take stock of the fact that the political and socioeconomic landscape of a country determines the existence and extent of WAW. For instance, it is a fact that at the moment, war torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan record exorbitant rates of cases of WAW. Similarly, unstable countries and states such as Sudan, Somalia, (previously, in Sierra Leone and Rwanda) and others would record very high numbers on the same.
The interesting twist to this state of affairs is that undemocratic states have also been seen to have concomitance with high levels of WAW. This is due to the fact that these states by the virtue of being undemocratic, pay very little attention to principles of primal importance such as the universality of human rights, freedom of will, expression, conscience, movement, the right to own property, among others. At the same time, other relatable and relevant tenets such as meritocracy (the concept that portfolios, jobs, positions and promotions be accessed on the basis of merit and the fulfillment of prerequisites and qualifications) are always ignored in undemocratic societies, thereby opening up a wide door for discrimination against women, and their relegation to the domestic spheres.
At this above juncture, it is important to bring into account, the fact that outward stability of a country or any other polity should be taken as being democratic. On the contrary, there are states, nation states and countries that are purportedly stable, even to the extent of bearing the extent of taking on the names of democracy, but are totally despotic to the core. Most of these states are found in the east and in the Arabic and Islamic world.
In these above cultures, the inability to oust violence against women is far much profound, given the inherent incompatibility of Islam and democracy. Particularly, whereas democracy is underpinned by liberalism, concepts such as the liberalization of the media and the economy are seen as unfeasible in the Islamic and Arabic worlds. Liberalization of the media has it that the government should desist from controlling the media so that media moguls and empires are the one with control over the content being aired. The Islamic world only sees this move as an artifice by the democratic West and the US to entrench and suffuse therein, the murky waters of debauchery, pornography and licentiousness as part of secularism and humanism.
Nonetheless, it suffices to point the crux of the matter herein as being the muzzling of the media by the Islamic regimes and governments. As such, WAW (mostly in the form of domestic violence and gender discrimination) remains prevalent, but as a silent epidemic, due to the absence of a free and vibrant media. Worse still, in some unstable Islamic states, Islamists, Jihadist Muslims and fundamentalists such as the faction allied to Al Qaeda, the Al Shabaab, have come up, taking control of parts of a country, with Somalia being an apt example of the same development. In this case, such fundamentalists prescribe laws, purportedly the Shariah law whose interpretation is made by the same group in a manner that is biased against women. In these societies, women are not to walk in public places unless in the company of a male relative.
It is against the backdrop of the above that it is usual to have capital punishment being meted out on a woman (a form of WAW), on the grounds of adultery. In most cases, no laborious efforts are exerted to adduce evidence before the court. Similarly, neither is the defendant allowed chance to access an attorney, nor are there investigations being carried out to ascertain the validity of the case or accusations.
On another front, in these cultures, women (and children) are always devalued and are seen as mere chattels. Thus, in these traditional values, women are easily subjugated and culturally made to comply with societal norms which are controlled by men.
Effects of WAW
The effects of violence are far reaching, impacting the country at the social (family) level and at the national extent also. At the personal level, the victim is likely to succumb to injuries, both fatal and non fatal, as far as sexual and non sexual modes of violence are concerned. Deaths are also incurable. This may come about in the form of honor killings (for instance, by certain families for cultural reasons), female infanticide, suicide by the WAW victim, maternal deaths and even miscarriage (French, 2003).
Interestingly, World Health Organization (WHO) associates WAW with the transmissions of HIV/AIDS infections, unwanted pregnancies, induced abortions, low birth weight, gynecological problems and even fatal deaths. High rates of risky sexual behaviors are also associated WAW. This is especially the case if the victim is a child who then grows up into an adult. Substance reliance and abuse, and ultimately, the setting in of health problems are also dire consequences that a victim of WAW may incur (World Health Organization, Nov, 2009).
As if the above litany against WAW does not suffice, it is a fact that violence against women are at the highest risk of suffering depression, sleep disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, emotional distress and eating disorders. The physical health of the victim in this case is also poised to plummet, as headache, back and spinal pains and injuries, fibromyalgia, abdominal pains, limited mobility, poor overall health and gastrointestinal disorders are closely associated with WAW.
The social and economic costs of WAW can not also be discounted. Isolation, inability to work, lack of participation in regular and important activities, loss of wages and limited ability by the victim to take care of dependents and themselves are occurrences that have far wide repercussions on a family, especially, when the victim is a single mother. These impacts have economic undertones too, given that the government is denied of its source of labor, and source of revenue through taxation. At the same time, it is the same government that incurs high medical expenditure in its bid to secure and sustain the provision of health care services and drugs for these victims.
Adding to the list, the disintegration of the basic social unit as divorce, separation and the backlash from the victims against marriage are matters that call for the government's attention. This is especially the case, when the government remembers that it is the family, and not the individuals, which form the basic building block of a society (Faludi, 2006).
It is important that increased awareness be worked at by government agencies and women's caucuses so as to help women spot the tale tale signs of a possibly physically abusive relationship and relationship. To this effect, countries that are silent on the same should be pushed (by these civil, human rights bodies and women's caucuses) to make legislations that define and prescribe judicial punishment for the perpetrators of WAW. Above all, the onus and responsibility remains on the European Union, mature democracies such as the US, and the international organizations such as the United Nations to push for the global adoption of democracy as the main panacea to the rabies that is War Against Women.