War and Violence

War and violence obviously have implications for all members of society. Here we will explore how women specifically are affected and how they deal with violence in their lives. The nature of reaction can be quite diverse. For example, in times of war, sometimes women take a participatory role while others choose to become peace activists. Often choices about how to deal with violence and war are influenced by cultural factors or political situations. In times of foreign occupation, women may be involved in nationalist movements. In the face of social injustice, women may participate in political protest or other forms of activism. Here you can explore the various ways violence impacts women and their reactions to it.

Photo courtesy of Reflection on Fallujah

Conflict in the Arab world has not occurred without affecting the lives of women and children in these areas--this affect has not always been negative. In order to deal with this intense situation many activist organizations have been created to deal with specific issues resulting from war and conflict in the Arab world.

Iraq: Our country is currently at war with Iraq, and as concerned feminists, we must understand the dynamics of this conflict and the effect that it has on women and and all citizens of Iraq. The feminist anti-war movement is also prominent in Iraq as well as other Arab countries and America.

Palestine and Israel- In 1948 Israel dealt with the Arab-Israeli War, a series of conflicts against Israel from their neighboring Arab countries. This was the beginning of the events that lead Palestine to dealing with "The Catastrophe". The Catastrophe began when Israel became an independent state from Palestine, forcing 750,000 Palestinians to leave their homes and flee to lands unknown by them. 254 Palestinians were murdered, one-third of them children. Today, while Israel celebrates their day of freedom, Palestine remembers those lost.
Currently under occupation Palestinian women who are labeled as victims are working in and out of the public eye for change. Women are taking care of their families, their children's education, and are working together towards peace. Israeli women also work for peace with Palestinians. However, the Israeli women also retain their strong sense of Nationality and continue to support the Israeli state. This creates conflict within Israeli women because if they are to work for peace, they may have to sacrifice some of the country they worked so hard to develop.

Lebanon: Women in Lebanon face violence in different forms. Some times it is political or military acts of war. Other instances of violence include domestic abuse. There are feminist organizations that deal with both. One such organization is LECORVAW (The Lebanese Council to Resist Violence Against Women), founded in 1997, which is dedicated to eliminating all gender-based violence in Lebanon. They offer legal services as well as counseling to victims and promote awareness.

Syria: While Syria has not been in a war of its own since the outbreack of the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab nations in 1967 surrounding tensions about the Syrian-Israeli border. During the conflict Israeli forces captured the Golan Heights, which Israel went on to annex in 1981."ยน Recently Syria has had an impact in other wars including the Lebanon Civil war where it sent numerous troops and the current Iraq war where Syria has taken in many refugees fleeing the violence. Take the Gulf War for instance. Many Iraqis fled to Syria for safety. Women have also been victims of domestic violence, a recent study revealed that one in four women who are married have been beaten. Please reference the Women's status page for more information and read about this violence in this New York Times article.

~*~ Syria Homepage ~*~

Saudi Arabia
Prompted by the American declaration of war on Iraq as a result of their occupation of Kuwait, women's issues came into stark focus. At least, that's what many western feminists were hoping. Particularly, the issue of a woman's right to drive came up. This was not something otherwise seen as a problem by the majority of the population, however many felt that with a number of the male population likely to perish in battle, it was a necessity that women still be able to get around in order to do what they needed to do. Only recently has driving been re-addressed as an issue requiring major reform, and no longer as a result of war. (link to abstract)

Morocco - War has not been a major part determining feminism within Morocco, BUT it should be noted that women have had to deal with their share of "invasion" and nationalistic movements. During most of the first half of the 20th century Morocco was occupied by both Spain and France in different parts. (information cited: wars of Morocco) As described in Fatima Mernissi's memoir, the women were involved in different walks and protests against the Spanish/French occupation. Mernissi tells one such story of a wife of her Grandfather named Tamou who dressed as a man carrying weapons and means of protecting herself, arriving from the north after having lost all her family to violence from the Spanish/French soldiers. Tamou gave the other women within her Grandfather's harem confidence about themselves, showing that a woman could fend for herself and be anything but the feeble timid women Mernissi was so accustomed to seeing. "Her [Tamou] presence on the farm, with her tattoos, dagger, aggressive bracelets, and constant horseback riding, made the other women realize that there were many ways to be beautiful. Fighting, swearing, and ignoring tradition could make a woman irresistible. Tamou became a legend the moment she appeared. She made people aware of their inner force and their capacities to resist all kinds of fates."