Yesterday’s observance of International Women’s Day began for me with a sober reminder that women’s lives, and those of their children, are still under siege both here in the U.S. and everywhere. The front page of my morning newspaper carried this truly disheartening picture of women in black as it were, voting in Iraq, a testament to the deterioration of women’s rights in Iraq, where previous to the U.S. invasion, women were among the most privileged in the Arab world. Now they are seen in restrictive clothing, voting while invisible.
Radio Free Europe reports that,
“There’s been significant attention paid to the role of women in this weekend’s parliamentary elections, both as voters and as candidates. Much of the discussion has centered around how Iraqi women will participate in the vote. There’s been some concern over the potential for Iraqi men to unduly influence the votes of their female relatives. A number of citizens speaking to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq admitted that such pressure was commonplace.
One citizen, Abu Milad, told RFI that he was sure his wife would vote for whomever he votes for. Hussein Abdel-Rahman, a young college student, admitted that he will attempt to sway his sisters’ voting choices, but attributed this phenomenon to the nature of Iraqi society, which is dominated by what he calls the “Eastern view” of relations between men and women…
…Young women from a village in Diyala province told RFI that many women in rural areas were being told that they were not allowed to leave their house to participate in the elections. They added that the male members of many households had collected the voter registration cards of all the women in their family, and planned to cast ballots on behalf of their female relatives, in addition to their own.”
Democracy? Not. But what nailed me was the article directly beneath the picture reporting that our state legislature in Kentucky once again is suffering from an acute case of brain in paranoid dick disease with some of our abortion phobic representatives trying to hijack 2 bills aimed at improving children’s lives by insisting on the addition of anti-abortion language.
Call it a tale of 2 fundamentalisms. If we really wanted to end terrorism, the first place to look is clearly at home.
On a related note, the U.S. military continues to prey on our children, marketing the fighting of war as an opportunity for occupational training and education, while the fine print on the sign up contract tells a different story. Young women in particular however face additional risk of being sexually assaulted by these snake oil recruiters. Learning Not Recruiting* has issued their annual compendium of suspect behavior by recruiters that has been reported (which they quickly point out is likely to be the tip of the iceberg in terms of actual number of cases). As they note in an email,
“With whatever other crimes in frauding, drug dealing, questionable enlistments, etc. that are committed, the vast majority of the reports involve sexual assault, rape and manipulation of young girls by recruiters.”
Documented reports for 2009:
1. Police: Army recruiter had sex contact with teen
2. Army Recruiter Arrested on Sex Charge
3. Army recruiter pleads not guilty
4. Recruiter uses slur at high schools
5. Former Recruiter Gets 3 Years on Child Sex
6. National Guard recruiter pleads guilty in theft
7. Marine guilty in sex assault of stepniece
8. Army recruiter disciplined
9. Ex-Guard recruiter sentenced to prison
10. Area Navy recruiter charged with statutory rape of
11. Marine recruiter faces 14 felonies
12. Case impugns Marine recruiting
13. Parents of recruit sue the Army, say they were
14. Marine recruiter gets 3 years for sexual assault
15. Air Force recruiter charged with selling drugs
16. Marine recruiter charged with pimping girl, 14
17. Recruiter allegedly propositioned student
18. Ex-CCHS Army recruiter under investigation
19. Former Marine recruiter pleads guilty of rape
20. Miramontes guilty of manslaughter
21. Recruiter charged in child prostitution sting
22. 2 recruiting bosses fired after suicide probe
23. U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal
Appeals: US v. Scholz (Conviction upheld against
recruiter who had sex with and impregnated 14-
year-old 9th grade student)
24. Low morale, stress blamed in Army recruiter
25. U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals: US v.
Curran (Conviction of recruiter on multiple sex
26. Marine gunnery sergeant jailed 90 days for
27. Substance abuse appears a problem among stressed
We read about the abuse of child soldiers in what the press paints as darkest Africa, all too easy to ignore because it is over there and it is someone else’s children. But it isn’t just over there, it is here too. It is terrorism being committed against our own children, and most assuredly not the defense of democracy.
Meanwhile, the military enjoys impunity from the damage caused by dumping toxics near military bases, perchlorate pollution and weaponry leashed on civilian populations such as Fallujah causing all manner of health problems, especially for children whose tiny bodies are the most vulnerable and birth defects and miscarriages.
Yet hardly a day goes by that we do not hear from our country’s leaders that they are spending billions more to fight terrorism and keep us safe from the enemy while our schools are pretty literally reduced to holding bake sales to stay solvent. Orwellian doublespeak at its finest, or as Pogo would have said, we have met the enemy and he is we. Poisoning children, sexually assaulting women and girls, depriving women of their rights while the country goes bankrupt–we are not safer and any notion that this is democracy is delusional. We are not only terrorizing others, we are terrorizing (and killing) ourselves.
*With many thanks to Ret. Col. Ann Wright for bringing the recruiting abuse story to my attention.