Over at The Goddess, Morgaine and I have been having a discussion about war victims:
80% of the casualties of war are women and children, who NEVER have the political power to prevent it.
That is simply false. The majority of victims in most wars are male. In Iraq, for example, adult men were the demographic group most likely to be victims. Adult women were the least. See my post here for details.
You are patently wrong, Daran:
Yes I am. What I should have said was “The majority of casualties in most wars are male. In Iraq, for example, adult men were the demographic group most likely to be killed. Adult women were the least.”
It was not my intention to imply that only those killed should be regarded as victims, any more than it was to suggest that only Iraqis should be regarded as victims. The reference was intended to be an example – a single data point for illustrative purposes. I’m well aware of rape as a war crime, and I most certainly do consider those targetted for this kind of brutalisation, overwhelminly female, to be casualties of war. I’m sorry if the wording I used gave a different impression.
“According to a report prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross, titled ‘Women and War’ and based on two years of research from 1998 to 1999, approximately 80 percent of war victims are women and children. This is mainly because military conflicts now more commonly engulf towns and cities instead of only frontline areas.
A report that reached this conclusion using even halfway-decent methodology would certainly trump my single data point, that’s for sure, but does it?
The cited report can be found here. The executive summary of the study on which it was based can be found here (Both PDF). In neither document can I find any statistic or other statement that stands for the proposition that 80% (or any other percentage) of war victims are women and children. The figure given in the news report appears to be a journalistic invention.
While rape can be used to brutalize both sexes, it is usually committed against women during wartime — males are usually killed or captured. Ongoing conflicts in many countries, including Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan and Congo, have victims of war rapes running into the thousands.
My emphasis. Ironically, the executive summary does provide some statistics for those detained or “missing” (which very often means “killed”):
In some conflicts, as many as 96% of the detainee population are men and 90% of the missing are men.
Rape is a more effective weapon of war than killing. Many victims say they would prefer death over life after being raped.”
The first statement presents the two as if they were independent actions of which an aggressor could choose neither, either, or both. In reality the situation is rather more complex. Here’s what the executive summary has to say:
It is also important to recognise that the plight of civilian women in war is often linked to the fate of the menfolk in their households and communities. In other words, attacks on undefended households and women, rape as a means of attacking the “enemy” population, the displacement of women and their dependants, etc., occur in part at least because of the absence of the men.
With regard to the second point, that “Many victims say they would prefer death over life after being raped.”: I’ve no doubt that many victims do feel this way. Many others don’t. Not all get the choice, as Dr. Adam Jones observes:
It should also be pointed out that the act of rape is not always “bounded” by respect for the actual life of the victim. Reports exist of victims being executed after rape. Even for the large majority of victims that survive the experience, the fear of death is present throughout. Activist Marsha Jacobs, who visited Croatia with the Balkan Women’s Relief Committee early in 1993 to interview women refugees from the war zones (including many rape victims), argues that “The real issue of rape is people are afraid they’re going to be killed. The terror is that this other person has total control over you and can overpower you. It seems there’s no reason not to be killed. Rape itself is a terrible experience, but you can live with it. What’s really going on in terms of fear is the terror of being exterminated.”
Intriguingly, Jacobs found among the women she interviewed a general concern that the issue of rape not be stressed at the expense of the alleged Serbian campaign of slaughter and genocide against the civilian population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, male and female alike. “They didn’t want in any way to let the rape overshadow the real problem, which is the extermination and execution of thousands and thousands of men and women” (Jacobs, 1993).
The fear of being killed is certainly not confined to women, nor to those raped.
Read the whole article if you have the stomach for it.
I read it, and it certainly is stomach churning. It’s also very typical of mainstream coverage, in that extensive coverage is granted to the victimisation of women, while the genocidal cull of males usually taking place as the same time is trivialised and marginalised, if it gets a mention at all.
I’m cross-posting this every damned place I can because I’m sick of people telling me that war affects men and women equally.
I didn’t say that. I said that the majority of victims are male – Men and Boys. Also the pattern of victimisation of each group is quite different. Men and older boys are more likely to be conscripted, killed in battle, murdered, imprisoned, and tortured, or to be forced into hiding to avoid these. Women and older girls are more likely to be displaced, widowed, and raped. Young children are more likely to be displaced and orphaned, and also appear to suffer a higher risk of death than adult women, (though not as high as adult men).
And, of course, any of these people can be victimised in any of those ways.
Women are also more likely to be the focus of humanitarian concern and assistance, as the reports exemplify. To a degree that’s justified – you can’t assist the dead, after all, and it’s often much harder to reach men in need, because they’re in hiding, or under the control of hostile forces. Also helping women is very often the key to helping children.
What is not justified is the almost total disregard for adult male victims in the mainstream media and policy initiatives.
Finally, I also take issue with this statement:
[Women and children] NEVER have the political power to prevent [war].
With the implication that men do. Unfortunately the men victimised by war are no more likely to have political power than the women, so this is just victim-blaming.
(Edited for spelling)