Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Mon, 4 Dec 1995 21:40:43 -0500

*On the Issues* describes itself a "The Progressive Woman's Quarterly"
and it is just that. They have given me permission to cite from an
article in their Winter, l996 issue called "What is Justice for a Rape
Victim?" It's by Professor Phyllis Chesler, author of the classic *Women
and Madness*, who has also give me permission to cite from her article.On
the first page of the article is a picture of a young gilr hanging from a
tree branch. Phyllis writes: "There she was, on the front page of the
American newspapers, a 20-year-old Bosnian Moslem girl, hanging from a
tree, a suicide, dead by her own hand, her death a cry for help. Our
silence, deafening.We cannot say: 'We didn't know, no one told us." We
know. We've seen it on TV, read the detailed repots, seen the photos. I
knew, feminists knew what was going on in Bosnia. True, we had trouble
sleeping over it, and some of us sent money, gathered evidence, drafted
law-suits, petitioned the U.N., counseled and consoled the victims,
quietly helped rap-refugees to leave the country, but, as a movement, we
failed to mount even one Israeli-style Entebbe raid, even one mass
'pacifist' action on Bosnian soil. We wrung our hands and waited for the
patriarchal governments to 'do something'; convene a war crimestribunal
to The Hague, bomb Sarajevo, lift the arms embargo, fight it out,
man-to-man......While the war in Bosnia raged on, millions of women,
worldwide, endured rap. Moslem women in Bosnia were not the only Moslem
women to be systematicallyraped bysoldieers. In fact, rape has
consistently been used as a political weapon against Moslem women by
Moslem ,men for the past l5 years, in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh,
India, Iran, and Pakistan. According to attorney Karima Bennoune, from
l992 on, Algerian fundamentalist men have committed a series of
"terrorist atrocities" aainst Algerian women. Bennoune describes the
"kidnapping and repeated raping of young girls as sex slaves for armed
fundamentalists. The girls are also forced to cook and clean for God's
warriors. As in Iran, 'unveiled', educated, independent Algerian women
have been seen as 'military targets' and increasingly shot on sight.
According toBennoune, 'the men of Algeria are arming,the women ofAlgeria
areveiling themselves. As one woman said: ;Fear is stronger than our
will to be free.' ......These Moslem women 'belong to' to the Moslem men
who are raping them. In Bosnia, however, men (Serbian Christian,mainly,
but not exclusively) have beenraping the wrong women: women who 'belong'
to other men.
"The information coming out of Bosnia defies belief, confirms the
worst nightmares of Second Wave feminists. The former Yugoslavia has
been re-balkanized, cursed really, by pazramilitary,
fascist/nationalists, virulent racists, misogynists. No matter who the
aggressors were.their victims were mainlycivilians. Male soldiers attacked
civilians (who were often their neighbors) with a ferocity and hatred
that was surreal. Male soldiers treated female civilioans the way
'kinky johns' treat whores, the way psychotic batterers treat their wives.
"Some people say: 'Both sides did it.' No, 'both sides' did not
do it. Only men raped women, women did not rape men; only men, not
women, did the killing.
"Whaat did Bosnian Serb Christian soldiers do to civilian men
between the ages of l6and 60? In a ghastly replay of World War II, the
soldiers ordered the men/Gypsies/Jews out of the house, lined them up,
shot them in the sstreet,or marched them out of town and shot them down
into mass graves. Those men 'lucky'l enough to survive endured eatings,
starvation, and hideous tortures in concentration camps. Serbian
soldiers sometimes castrated and killed those Seervian men and boys 3who
refused to systematically rape women.
"A number of jurists, intellectuals are eager to see rape tried
as a war crime and as a human rights violation. I am too. Howev er, I
am more convinced than ever that all trape is a political crime against
female humanity, not just in Bosnia, but everywhere, not just in times of
national war, butr also in times of so-called peace; not onlywhen it
occurs between srangers, but among intimates. At the U.N. FourthWorld
Conference onWomen in Beijing, somefeminist lawyers wanted to amend the
Geneva Convention to say that 'any raope', not just mass rape in war, is
a crime.' Rape is 'gender-cleansing'. The intended effect of rape is
always the same: to utterlybreak thespiit of the rap victim, to drive her
out of her body and out of her mind so as to render her incapable of
resistance. Rape has been systematically used bymen of ev eryclass and
race to destroy their own women and the women of enemy-men. This
terrorist tactic, coupled with childhood sexual abuse and shaming,
works. Mosat women donot resist, escape, or kill their rapists in
self-defense. When women do, they are often killed by their rapists,
failed for long periods of time, or executed. . . . . . . . . . . . .'`
"What have they done to us? What have we done to ourselves?
Each woman knows that if she sides with another women against a man or
against men's laws, eventually the king's men on their high horses will
drag her away; imprison, interrogate, rape, and burn her to death as a witch;
"A woman is brave when she knows what can be done to her butx
despite such knowledge resists, helps other women anyway. A woman is
brave when she resists the "good little girl' within; the voice that
tells her to mind her own business, tend her own garden, don't do
anything that will get you in trouble, you'll get caught, you'll be
sorry, you'll be punished, no one will like you.
"Women are safe if I am brave. I am only as safe as other women
are brave. Otherwise, it's open season on all."
If anyone would like more informatiion from this article, let me
know and I'll send you the parts I've omitted. Ruby Rohrlich