International Gender and Trade Network against the War on Iraq
We at the Center of Concern, which acts as the Secretariat for the International Gender and Trade Network, are deeply shamed, angry, frustrated and heartsick at the actions of the United States government in attacking Iraq. This invasion is, first of all, immoral and unjust aggression. In addition, acting so obviously counter to the will of the UN Security Council and the whole UN, those responsible, we believe, are guilty of war crimes.
As human rights and women’s rights advocates we are especially concerned for those people most vulnerable and will feel the impacts of war most severely, women and children.
We know that in war and post-war situations women and girls experience violence and displacement in unique ways because of gendered roles and responsibilities, which are exacerbated during conflict situations. During war, women are often targeted by armed forces and women are subject to rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, threats, exploitation, summary executions, forced displacement, injury, arbitrary detention, the disappearance of relatives, lack of food, shelter and medical care. During war and post-war, incidents of domestic violence often become commonplace, reflecting the extreme stress, rage and frustration that is put on a family.
In refugee camps, where the majority of people are women and children, residents face hunger and malnutrition. Women must organize food distribution and women and children, who have special nutritional requirements, often face malnutrition. In many ways, traditional gender role of maintaining a household and providing for a family put extreme stress on displaced women.
Women suffer the traumas of war – being widowed, displaced, detained, separated from loved ones and becoming victims of violence and injury long after the fighting is over. Modern warfare often destroys health and educational services that are so important to family and community survival and that women must attempt to provide on their own when there is not public infrastructure. Furthermore many girls drop out of school when it is too dangerous to travel to classes or when males are absent from home and they must take on a greater workload.
Thus, as we work and stand in solidarity with all the people of Iraq we keep the women and girls of the area, in particular, in our thoughts and prayers.
We, at the Center of Concern, are inspired by the millions of people around the world opposing this war, the policies of the Bush regime and working for a better world for all. We are heartened to be a part of this movement and to work and be in solidarity with brave and inspiring people around the world.
Today, we were inspired to read the words of Ramzi Kysia, a person from Washington, DC who is now living in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team, which is to stay in Iraq throughout the war. He writes, “Nonviolence can prevent catastrophe. Nonviolence multiplies opportunities a thousand-fold, until seemingly insignificant events converge to tumble the tyranny of fears that violence plants within our hearts. Where violence denies freedom, destroys community, restricts choices – we must be present: cultivating our love, our active love, for our entire family of humanity.”
Maria Riley, Farah Fosse, Alexandra Spieldoch
International Gender and Trade Network Secretariat
and the entire staff of the Center of Concern