After almost five years of hard work, the 4th War Resisters’ International Women’s Conference was held in late November in Thailand. The most ambitious conference yet, and the first one held outside Europe, the conference drew 170 women from 63 nations together. Judging by the participants’ evaluations, it was a success. Another measure of success was the fact that the core organizers were energized enough to want to work on the 5th women’s conference!
“He hit me on the mouth. I fainted. When I came to, I was raped again. While I was still conscious I was raped by eight of them, and I don’t know what happened afterward…One of them lay on me, pressing the barrel of his automatic weapon against my temple, looking Into my eyes for a long time. Another man was running the blade of a knife over my breasts…”
—Azra, age 15
Rape and Sexual Abuse by Armed Forces, a report on the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war In ex-Yugoslavia, was released by Amnesty International on January 21. The report documents organized centers specifically set up for the rape of women by soldiers. The report does not conclude that rape was deliberately chosen as a weapon of war by top military leaders, but does state that local officers were aware of and condoned mass rapes. Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, London WC1, UK.
Freedom from Violence, edited by Margaret Schuler (354 pages, 1992), is a collection of 14 essays on violence against women (including an article by a WRI Women’s Conference speaker, Siriporn Skrobanek). Voices from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and the United States share their sources of Inspiration and common threads of agreement about what needs to be done to confront the violence In women’s lives in all its aspects: physical, social, economic, cultural and legal.