Exhibiting yet another facet of the possible conflict with Iraq, a panel of professors discussed issues surrounding gender crimes associated with war. The program, part of an ongoing series titled “Women in the Aftermath of War,” attracted both students and educators.
Speakers included anthropology doctoral candidate Nita Luci, American culture Prof. Andrea Smith, and Romance language and literature Prof. Lucia Suarez. While addressing seemingly unrelated conflicts, each touched on the prevalence of rape, and how gender continues to define many global conflicts.
Smith noted the connection between the current “War on Terror” and issues of gender.
“There are certain assumptions that people have about war … that it’s happening somewhere else. Consequently, the gender crimes that are occurring are always happening ‘somewhere else,'” she said.
As they prepare for a foreign war, Americans should remember that there is an ongoing, unofficial war against Native Americans and other minorities, she said.
“I’d like to suggest that the U.S. government has been engaged in a permanent war with indigenous people within the U.S.,” Smith said. “We often don’t make the link between the war abroad and the war that’s been going on here for 500 years.” Smith said this internal war has brought suffering to Native American women.
Smith discussed colonial policies that particularly advocated the murder of women in order to stop the growth of the native populations. She added that the injustices continued into the contemporary era, including the secret sterilization of native women during the 1970s.
LSA sophomore Elizabeth Campbell said Smith’s presentation was “intriguing.”
“You never really hear about the history (of native women) and how the state was involved,” Campbell said.
Center for Afro-American Studies post-doctorate fellow Amal Fadlalla said the presentation’s subject was very relevant considering the current global climate. “There is definitely a link between how power is represented and how power is used to repress people inside,” she said. “We always seem to think that it’s always about people outside of our boundaries, and they are right here.”
Luci and Suarez specifically discussed the rape as a gender crime in international conflicts, citing specific examples from wars in the Balkans and Haiti.
Suarez said rape has historically been used as a “political tool,” but is often overshadowed by other social ills. The deeply personal experience of rape and the dishonor associated with it has made many women afraid to discuss their traumas, she said. As a result, the success of many international organizations in aiding victims is inherently limited, Suarez added.
The Center for the Education of Women, the Institute for Research on Women and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program sponsored the event.