||11. Male domination||5,000 years of increasing monopolization of the culture of war by the state|
The History of the Culture of War
Violence against women is pervasive in all societies, and much, although not all, can be attributed to the culture of war. The UN Secretary General's Report on Violence against Women (2006) distinguishes the following kinds of violence against women:
1. Violence against women within the family
Although violence against women in armed conflict is the last point on the list, an argument can be made that rape and other violence against women has been fundamental to the culture of war over the course of history. This is still true today, although, as the UN report states, it is difficult to document :
"Although rape in war has been widespread for centuries, it has only recently been recognized as a significant human rights issue. Providing reliable data on the extent of sexual violence in war and humanitarian crises is particularly challenging precisely because of the chaotic circumstances and constantly shifting populations as well as safety considerations. Moreover, many women are reluctant to disclose rape, even in order to access support or obtain justice, either for fear of additional reprisals or because of the stigma associated with sexual violence."
When the facts are told about rape in war, they are overwhelming. Here is an excerpt from Rape: Weapon of Terror by Sharon Frederick and the AWARE Committee on Rape (2001):
"World War II documents, the best recorded evidence of wartime rape, reveal assaults numbering at least several hundred thousand, perhaps as many as two million. Thousands in the villages of Russia and Poland, as the Germans invaded early in the war; thousands more when the Soviets got the upper hand and took revenge on the bodies of German women. In the final two weeks of the war, an estimated 100,000 German women were raped in Berlin, by victorious Russian and other Allied troops. In Asia, figures are more exact: at least 20,000 in the Chinese wartime capital of Nanking when the Japanese invaded China; at least 80,000 - perhaps over 100,000 - Korean, Indonesian, Filipino and Chinese women repeatedly raped during their months as sex slaves of the Japanese soldiers."
"It has been argued that when killing is viewed as not only permissible but heroic behavior sanctioned by one's government or cause, the distinction between taking a human life and other forms of impermissible violence gets lost, and rape becomes an unfortunate but inevitable by-product of the necessary game called war . . "
Ironically, the criminal justice system with its "eye for an eye" principle, with its disregard for the victim and exclusive concern with punishing the perpetrator, often aggravates the effects of rape by putting the victim through intensive scrutiny and sometimes even accusing her of having caused the rape.
Over the course of history, violence in the family has closely paralleled the subservient status of women, and the culture of war. The most obvious effect is that of wife-beating. There is also a direct relation between the culture of war and family violence against children as shown by cross-cultural analysis. In their paper, Explaining Corporal Punishment: A Cross-Cultural Study, Carol and Mel Ember (2005) found a significant relationship of war frequency to violence against the child:
"In previous research on warfare (Ember and Ember 1992a), we found it important to exclude pacified societies because their warfare frequency was artificially reduced by a colonial power. So we reexamined the relationship between corporal punishment of children and war frequency in nonpacified societies. We found the war frequency is significantly related to corporate punishment in nonpacified societies."
In recent centuries, the culture of war through colonialism and authoritarian rule has adversely affected the family in other ways that have been indirect, but no less destructive. For example, the study mentioned above by Carol and Mel Ember on determinants of corporal punishment of children found that: "corporal punishment of children is likely in societies that are marked by power inequality caused by the presence of social stratification or high levels of political integration, or an alien power (as indicated by a longtime use of alien currency)."
The capitalist exploitation of women and children since the beginning of the industrial revolution, which has been closely linked to the culture of war, has also had a destructive impact on the family. And in more recent years, millions of families have been further decimated by the drug trade and the great rise in prison populations, especially in the United States. As the family has been weakened or destroyed, it is the children, the elderly and the handicapped who suffer the most, since historically their main support came from their role and their sustenance within the context of the extended family. Although the most dramatic and oppressive effects have been on the families of the poor, the families of the middle classes have not escaped. The modern globalized economy demands frequent household moves, long hours and multiple employments and increased frequency of both parents working. Once again, it is the children, the elderly and the handicapped who suffer most.
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