To be a woman in a world where some men have cast aside the necessary bonds of civilization is a dreadful fate indeed. Yet that is the lot allocated to tens of millions of women and girls around the globe, condemned to lives of servitude, abuse and violence for no other reason than being born into the “wrong” gender. From an article by Adam Taylor for The Washington Post:
“A new report by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) claims to have found evidence that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and associated armed groups in South Sudan engaged in extreme sexual violence and torture against civilians.
Some of the allegations are especially horrendous. Witnesses testified that in the northern state of Unity, there were at least nine instances where “women and girls were burned in tukuls (huts) after being gang-raped.”
One survivor told the U.N. that she had been gang-raped alongside her neighbor by government soldiers in front of her 3-year old child, while a separate witness said she saw forces gang-raping a lactating mother “after tossing her baby aside.””
Meanwhile in yet another cauldron of Medieval barbarism the Guardian reports that:
“Islamic State militants have beheaded two women in a province in eastern Syria after accusing them of witchcraft, the first time such an execution has been carried out under the rule of the self-proclaimed caliphate, activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group with wide contacts inside Syria, said Isis executed the two women and their husbands this week in the province of Deir Ezzor, where the militants are vying for control against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Isis has executed more than 3,000 people since it proclaimed a caliphate in vast swaths of Iraq and Syria a year and a day ago, including civilians and forces loyal to and opposed to Assad, according to the observatory.
It said nearly 1,800 of those executed were civilians, including 74 children. Isis has previously executed women for offences including adultery, by stoning them to death or by firing squad.”
However, let us not assume that we automatically hold the high moral ground on such matters, we self-regarding inhabitants of the “West”. As Vice Magazine examined some months ago, on the back of a Guardian investigation:
“A UN internal report leaked to the Guardian newspaper alleges that French troops deployed as part of a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) raped boys as young as nine. The abuse is believed to have taken place between December 2013 and June 2014 in a displaced persons center at the M’Poko airport in the capital Bangui.
Advocacy group Aids Free World, which is demanding an independent investigation into the allegations of abuse, handed the confidential report —titled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces — to the Guardian.
According to the Guardian, the report is believed to have been originally leaked by Swedish UN aid worker Anders Kompass, who allegedly forwarded the report to French authorities out of frustration with the UN’s inaction. Kompass has since been suspended from his post as director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for breaching confidentiality protocols, and could be fired.
The interviews recount, at times in great detail, how roughly a dozen French troops stationed in Bangui alongside African Union troops, and prior to the deployment of UN peacekeepers, raped and sexually abused starving and displaced children in exchange for food.
According to witnesses aged 9 and 11, French troops forced them to perform sex acts while they were out looking for food. The children who were interviewed were able to provide descriptions of the troops who had they said had engaged in the abuse.”
Perhaps the worse aspect of these events is the knowledge that the Armed Forces of France have a well-established record of sexual criminality, as the women and girls of post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina can attest to. Of course, it does not require a breakdown in society or law and order for abuse to become the established norm of male behaviour. In the 2014 report “Violence against women: an EU-wide survey” by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (or the FRA) we learn that just over a quarter of all women in Ireland have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence both as children or adults:
27% = Women who have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence before the age of 15, by adult perpetrators.
26% = Women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by current and/or previous partner, or by any other person since the age of 15.
We are not so far away from the barbarians at the gate after all.