In 2008, a great leap forward took place for gender rights in the passing of U.N. Resolution 1820, which specifically declared an end to the use of “sexual violence” as a tool of war. I need not recite the long history of women and war, but some points must be addressed. Often, among my fellow male peers, I hear phrases such as, “To the victor goes the spoils of war.” What are those spoils of war these men talk about? Are the spoils land, livestock, or resources? The answer is yes, but often forgotten is that in the past, men died on the front lines leaving women and children behind, as such, women became a part of the spoils of war. This practice of treating women as an object in war to be used and contested over, was not even addressed until 2008! Even though such atrocities, such as rape and plundering, were committed in most major civil, revolutionary, and world wars! It wasn’t until the world saw the atrocities committed in the Yugoslavian War, of which rape of women and children was employed en mass, in order to break the spirits of Croats, Serbians, Bosnians, and the Roma. I myself lived in Croatia, in 2005 to 2007, in the area known as Slavonia near the Serbian border. What breaks my heart is to remember the many women torn both physically and mentally, due to the rapes which occurred to them during the war. The children who are born from those rapes are treated which disgust and revolted by their peers. My heart also yells in fury, as I realize that it took an organized act of mass sexual violence in Yugoslavia, for the world to realize that women are not the spoils of war, but rather women, people who have been forgotten during war.
Now, in absolute horror, I want to report that even though resolution 1820 has been created, this does not stop the use of rape and sexual violence to be used by governments or groups as a tool of war. The current situation in Syria is making this fact well-known. The group called Women Under Siege a part of the Women’s Media Group, have announced the the Muslim American Society(MAS) has rescued 23 new sexual violence vicitims to a safe zone in Syria, one of those victims was an 8 year-old girl. The name was not disclosed to protect the girl, but even still without a name, my heart breaks to hear such news. The MAS has reported that, “Sabra told WMC’s Women Under Siege that a doctor’s exam confirmed that the girl had been raped, and that the perpetrator, according to the women who accompanied the girl, was a shabiha (plainclothes militia) member.”
What happens when one cannot trust anyone? When everyday is a struggle for survival just to stay alive? Most countries would call such times a tragedy and a call to aid. However, do we hear the alarms in regards to the situation of this poor girl? None, once again the atrocities being committed during war are seen as symptoms of a disease(war), in which no one wants to treat until the initial quarantine is over. After which, nations will point fingers and say, “Shame on you!” But what about now? A poor girl needed help before the violence, not after. Now her fellow survivors state about the girl’s condition,
“Although she survived, in my own emotional distress, I wondered if it would have been better for this small defenseless girl if she had not lived. What does a world hold for a hopeless human being that has lost everything, including the rights over her own body. This life cannot possibly give her more than it has taken. This obvious display in inhumanity does not make living worthwhile. She will be destined to live in a world in which her mother and sisters did not survive the assault of their attackers. I kept thinking, is there a point to this kind of survival.”
Rape and sexual violence has not be eliminated as a tactic use during war, as demonstrated by the plight of a young 8 year-old girl. However, the true problem is why isn’t this information being posted as an atrocitity against human rights? Where is the coverage? The scary thought, is that still women and citizens of nations in war are still being pushed quietly into obscurity, until after the conflict is over. Such an act is a truly horrific fact about the situation in Syria.