The US administration demanded, through President Bush, that the world stand either "with the US or with the terrorists," and countries are moving to taking part in war in any form, based on calculation of national interests.
While women, children, and the disabled remain stranded in fear in Afghanistan, the Bush administration is preparing a large-scale war, including attacks on Afghanistan, calling the war as "a war against terrorism" and "a fight for justice and peace of the humankind."
However, many women across the world are refusing to take either Bush's or bin Laden's side, calling for "justice and peace" beyond the "black-and-white theory of the Bush administration."
"Prepare for Peace not War"
In the Philippines on September 25, women and children marched against the US retaliation war and the Philippine government's support for the US. "Women and children will be the major victims of war," they argued. "As long as men resort to weapons, peace will be a distant dream for all of us. We women will not leave to men what greatly affects our lives."
Many women's rights and peace activists have criticized that "peace through force" can never be realized. Ms. Dakasato Szyo (Officer of a Conference Okinawa Nahashi) talked about experiences of her city, where US troops have long been stationed, in International Seminar on Women's Human Rights in 2001>, organized by the Korea Women's Peace Network Against Militarism on September 7. "Security of women and children are seriously threatened as they practically live side by side with military bases. Doing away with military is an only way to guarantee genuine security," she pointed out.
Saewoomtuh, a group for rights of women in military camp villages, also argued in Women Peace Academy last year, "men call for war for peace, but if they truly want peace, they should prepare peace itself instead."
Feminists and Homosexuals Caused Social Unrest?
"Feminists, pro-choice activists, homosexuals, and heretics should be blamed for the terror attacks," said Presbyterian rightist Rev. Jerry Falwell on CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) on September 13. He said the attacks were God's punishment for those who wish to secularize America.
His remarks were soon met by strong protests from women and homosexuals rights groups in the US and he apologized for his statement. However, such incident amid a war atmosphere reveals a hidden part of the society. In fact, feminists point out that even after war ends military ideology continues to expand, providing a basis for oppression of and discrimination against women and the vulnerable.
"While war is directly responsible for murders and rapes of so many women and children, its aftereffect goes even farther," said Professor Chung Hyun-baek (history, SungKyunKwan Univ.) at "Seminar on Women and Peaceful Unification" last May. "Rights of women and the minority are ignored for bigger causes such as nation's survival," he said.
Indeed, Afghan women have been the major victims of a 10-year war with the former Soviet Union, soon followed by civil conflicts. They have suffered atrocious human rights violations by the Afghan government in the name of "Islamic Fundamentalism."
In Sook Kwan, a Korean feminist in New York, said, "there is no difference between Islamic fundamentalists, who oppress their women for anti-imperialism, and Christian fundamentalists, who blame feminists and homosexuals for social unrest and fear." "War will mean more control on Arab women and rapid masculinization of the American society," she remarked.
American peace activists Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey (Professor of Social Work at San Francisco State University) also noted, "women are described as proud mothers who send their sons off to war, as patient wives who wait for their husbands to return from war, as nurses who treat and send soldiers back to war, and as barmaids who offer soldiers entertainment and rest." "Militarism is none other than male-dominance," they analyzed.
Quoting "all who draw sword will die by the sword" from the Bible, Korean Association of Women Theologians (KAWT) criticized the US administration for "defining Islam as evil and justifying war in the God's name" in its announcement on September 18. KAWT further argued, "no sacred war with a noble cause of peace can be justified." "We Christian women in World Church Council will work for justice, peace, and creation in line with the spirit of our <10 Year Non-Violence> declaration."
Meanwhile, Vionet Japan (Violence Against Women in War Network Japan), which has raised issues of Japanese war crimes in the 20th century, made an announcement on September 17 against the US retaliation war and the proposed revision of Japan's Self-Defense Army Law. It pointed out, "the war will increase death tolls from the 4 million Afghan people already starving due to the US economic sanctions." "America, with its proud democracy, should recognize that life is also precious in non-Western worlds, as it is in the Western world."
Vionet Japan pleaded, "let all women across the world form solidarity against war, against a century of war, and against the current inequality between the Northern and Southern hemispheres."
[Do Not Undermine Human Rights of Women and the Minority]
-Inauguration of WAW
"For women, war means rape and sexual slavery. With horrors of sex slavery of the Japanese military and group rape camps of the Serbian army still vivid in our memory and history, we live day by day knowing that the same tragedy can happen again."
Although women and social minorities have always been major victims of war, they are often regarded as irrelevant to war. Under such circumstances, Women Against War (WAW) was inaugurated, composed of The Women's News, feminist webzine Unninet, the Korean Women Sexual Minority Rights Organization KIRI KIRI, and the Feminists for Peace at the Department of Womens Studies of the Ewha Women's University in Seoul.
Inauguration of WAW was proposed "for collecting and sharing views of Korean women on the Afghan women who are completely shut off from outside world in a semi-war atmosphere, and also for demanding sober reflection of the US." WAW is recruiting members through its website at www.freechal.com/kwaw.
"Young women are against a social atmosphere that supports war, but they haven't been able to voice their opinions due to absence of a channel." Ms. Ji-hye Cho of Unninet hoped, "WAW should be an occasion for solidarity of women who have been afraid to speak out against war."
One of the activities of WAW is sharing information. WAW started to publicize on the Internet lives of the Afghan women and anti-war movement of women across the world. It is also studying effects of war on women and social minorities.
"Why does the US turn its innocent victims of terror into war advocates?" Professor Soon-Kyoung Cho (Women's Studies, Ewha Women's University) argued, "the African American woman janitor at the World Trade Center who died in the attacks wouldn't have wanted Afghan women and children dying from violence and poverty brought about by the retaliation war." She said the US attacks on Afghanistan should be regarded not as "Bush vs. Taliban," but as "military forces vs. social minority."
According to Secretary Park Ha of KIRIKIRI, "a war justifies violence and discrimination, and thus will destroy achievements for women and minorities' human rights." "As women, as sexual minorities, as social minorities, we will join the anti-war movement."
WAW plans to form solidarity units, open an anti-war website, and hold debates and discussions. It will also expand an anti-war campaign by collecting signatures against the US retaliation and the Korean government's support for the war. In an announcement on September 26, WAW said, "we remember what President Kim Dae-Jung said receiving Nobel Peace Prize - that the award was an honor as well as a starting point of endless responsibilities. We solemnly demand that he bear the "endless responsibilities" and firstly withdraw support for the Bush administration's proposed war crimes."
"We will walk on the side of the long-forgotten victims of war, women, the disabled, racial and sexual minorities, children and all the weak who do not have the power to make their voices heard ... because there is no other choice." (Excerpt from WAW's statement)