War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War

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9780312573065: War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War

From the renowned authority on domestic violence, a startlingly original inquiry into the aftermath of wars and their impact on the least visible victims: women

In 2007, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which brings relief to countries in the wake of war, wanted to understand what really happened to women in post-conflict zones. Answers came through the point and click of digital cameras. On behalf of the IRC, Ann Jones spent a year traveling through Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, lending cameras to women who had no other means of telling the world what war had done to their lives. Their photographs chronicle the consequences of modern warfare for the most vulnerable. Animated by the voices of brave and resourceful women, War Is Not Over When It's Over is a powerful dispatch from the ruins.

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About the Author:

Ann Jones, writer and photographer, is the author of seven previous books, including War Is Not Over When It's Over, Kabul in Winter, Women Who Kill, and Next Time She'll Be Dead. Since 9/11, Jones has worked with women in conflict and post-conflict zones, principally Afghanistan, and reported on their concerns. An authority on violence against women, she has served as a gender adviser to the United Nations. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Nation.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction:
War Is Not Healthy

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 2008, as BBC TV presenters wearing crisp red paper poppy boutonnieres interview the last survivors of the Great War in Flanders fields, I sit in a sleazy hotel room off Hamra Street in Beirut, going over my notes of the day's interviews with refugees from the war in Iraq. After weeks of talking to refugees in Amman and Damascus, I met today in Beirut for the first time an Iraqi who actually was liberated by the American invasion of his country. His name is Ahmad.

As a young man, Ahmad worked as a mechanic in Baghdad and somehow managed to avoid being conscripted to serve in Saddam Hussein's war against Iran. By 1986, when he was twenty-six, the war had turned in Iran's favor. The Ayatollah Khomeini threatened to depose Saddam Hussein, and Saddam in turn cracked down on suspected enemies at home. He arrested Ahmad's sister and her husband, who were associated with a dissident party, and he arrested Ahmad as well. Charged as enemies of Saddam Hussein, Ahmad's sister and her husband were hanged, and Ahmad was sentenced to sixty years in prison. Interrogators tortured him every day for two years, trying to elicit a confession worthy of his sentence. He had nothing to confess. Interrogators pulled out his toenails, burned and cut the skin from his lower legs, inserted a hose in his anus and pumped him full of water, administered electric shocks to parts of his body he cannot name, and beat his head and body with wooden clubs and steel batons. At last he told them to write down whatever they liked and he would sign it. After that false confession, his captors abandoned the most brutal "enhanced interrogation" techniques; they had what they wanted. But they continued to beat him routinely, less viciously and less often, for sixteen years. In 2003, two days after the American invasion, Ahmad and his fellow prisoners realized that the guards had abandoned the prison. They broke down the doors and set themselves free.

Ahmad returned to his parents' home and found work again as a mechanic. Two months after his escape, he winked at a woman working in a cosmetics shop across the road. She smiled and seven days later they married. Her name is Azhar. They moved into a house they bought together. Then in July 2005, as Iraq descended into chaos, Ahmad was kidnapped by men from the Mahdi Army who demanded $150,000 ransom. He says, "I had been so happy—loving life, laughing, spending money—they must have thought I was rich." The kidnappers also held two children, and when no ransom was paid, they cut their throats before Ahmad's eyes. Azhar borrowed $10,000 from her parents to arrange Ahmad's release after fifteen days in captivity. Soon Ahmad received a letter warning him to leave his house or be killed. He and his wife sold everything, repaid her parents, and fled to Syria where Azhar soon gave birth to a son. For a year they lived what Ahmad calls "a simple life."

In 2007, running out of money, Ahmad went to Lebanon. He had been told that he might find highly paid work in Beirut, but he didn't. Penniless and lonely, in November 2007 he sent for his wife and son. The family registered with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and asked to be resettled in another country. Referred to the United States, they were interviewed by U.S. embassy officials. They wait for a decision in a windowless one-room apartment that reminds Ahmad of prison. Fear of being detained and deported by the authorities keeps him confined to that room. He suffers depression, anxiety, flashbacks. And he beats his wife as he was beaten. He was tortured. He tortures her. ("Domestic violence" is the euphemism we use to name torture that takes place in the home, but a comparison of standard techniques—from stripping and sleep deprivation to beating, burning, bondage, asphyxiation, and sexual assault—shows that torture by another name is still torture.) Slowly, with the help of psychotherapists at Restart, a UNHCR-funded program for survivors of torture, Ahmad is learning to stop abusing Azhar. "She is my life," he says. "I would die without her." (She says, "I choose to share this life of misery with him.") He suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic back pain, the physical effects of his long imprisonment, and from the unrelenting depression of a man so poor he has only one set of clothes. The family of his youth is gone: three sisters in Sweden, one in Germany, one killed in the first American war, one executed, two brothers shot and killed during the second American war, one by an Iraqi militiaman in the street, the other by an American soldier in the living room. Ahmad fears for his child. Waiting for the American embassy to call, he says, "I need to know if my son has a future."

Today, in the bleak room he shares with Azhar and their young son in South Beirut, Ahmad removed his plastic shoes to show me his swollen feet, still purple and marked by sunken scars where toenails used to be. He says that when he has flashbacks he feels overcome by powerlessness and rage. What these feelings compel him to do threatens to destroy his life. He sometimes loses control and hits Azhar hard, and then he weeps and begs her pardon. His eyes seem to leak even as he says these things.

I am here to listen. I listen to what people like Ahmad and Azhar tell me about war and the violence that attends it because my own life—the only life I can know firsthand, and even that imperfectly—has been darkened by war. That war is now commemorated with paper poppies, the Great War, in which my father served with uncommon distinction and from which he returned a hero, irrevocably changed, subject to nightmares and sudden rages and drunken assaults upon innocent furniture and my mother and me, and tearful reconciliations we were not permitted to reject. I watch the BBC coverage of the distant ritual of Armistice Day and see many people, mostly women, advanced well beyond middle age, weeping with remembrance. Their memories, I imagine, might be like mine: the memories of people who never participated in the war and yet have never escaped it. My father, at sixteen, enlisted in the American Expeditionary Force to take part in the war to end all wars. But that's not how it worked out. In some ways, as the BBC presenter says, the Great War laid the foundation for more wars to come, and certainly for wars at home, like the one my father waged for twenty years and more against my mother and me in a dark-green-shuttered house in a small town in Wisconsin. The war my father carried home in his khaki canvas bag from the trenches of Flanders to the valley of the Chippewa is the shadow in which I've lived my solitary life. It is surely the reason that now in my seventieth year I sit in this seedy room in a fading hotel long favored by journalists and stare at cigarette burns in the worn carpet, and see only the purple toes of Ahmad and the fading yellow bruises on the face of his wife.

My father used to say that wars were made by men who had never been to war, men who didn't know that once started it never ends. The Great War ended with the Armistice in 1918, but my father lived another sixty years; and during all that time the war never left his memory or his nightmares. Nor is it ever far from mine, because the violence my father brought home fell on me and shattered whatever small childish trust I may once have had in the simplicity of love. The violence of war does not end when peace is declared. Often it merely recedes from public to private life. I am here in Beirut talking about war, writing about war, because my father fought bravely in a brutal one. And that changed everything for him, and consequently for me.

For many years I studied violence in the family and wrote about it in several books. I was part of a widespread movement of women in the United States and elsewhere who worked hard to change attitudes and laws about violence against women, inside and outside the home, and to provide services for women and child survivors. It was the home that I wanted to make safe for women and children because the home was what I knew, in all its fearful rage and sorrow.

Many of us who did this work argued that the violence of private life is not private at all. So often it spills into the world at large. An abusive husband shoots his estranged wife in her workplace and kills some of her colleagues as well. Another appears for a child custody hearing and shoots his wife, her lawyer, the judge, and other bystanders. We see such stories often in the media. Accounts of these routine rampages invariably accept the shooter's anger at his estranged wife or girlfriend as sufficient explanation for mass homicide. But where does such rage come from?

I still believe that violence in the home imperils us all. Just as it spills into the streets, it schools the next generation in violence. But now I wonder if that is truly where violence starts, at home. When my father attacked my mother or me, he was often angry about something altogether different. He laid into us—me especially—because I was there. But the response? The techniques? Those were things he had learned in the army. In fact it must have been his success in learning to act so swiftly, so effectively, so violently that made him a hero and earned him the highest honors of three allied countries. His medals hung on the wall at home, under glass. Friends of our family often said to me: "You must be so proud of your father." I was. I admired him and loved him, even though I knew what his heroism cost us, and him, at home.

One stronghold of the battered women's movement—in Maryland, if I remember rightly—distributed T-shirts bearing the words world peace Begins at Home. I believed it. Raise up children in peaceful homes free of violence, I thought, and they will make peace. But now, having spent the last many years in and around wars, I think the motto is painfully idealistic. The relationship it describes is reciprocal, but not fair. World peace may begin at home, but violence just as surely begins in war; and war does not end.

Ahmad's cry—"I need to know if my son has a future"—is echoed by all survivors of the violence of war. What will become of the children? During the war in Vietnam, the peace movement had a slogan: "War is not healthy for children and other living things." In the violence of war, children are orphaned, maimed, mutilated, sexually assaulted, kidnapped, forced to be soldiers or servants or sex slaves, tortured, and murdered. The children who survive the violence of war may be deeply wounded, robbed of childhood, and poised to enter adult life already crippled beyond repair. Even children who know war only at secondhand, the children of soldiers returning from far-off lands, may be bent. Any of these damaged children may inflict the harm done to them upon others, even when it breaks their hearts.

Think of wars of recent memory and those still going on in the world today. Think of Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Burma. Think of Darfur, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone. Think of Sri Lanka, Kashmir, East Timor, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea. Think of Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Georgia, Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia. Think especially of the United States, which has been at war, overtly or covertly, some place (or many places) in the world almost continuously since 1941.

Today children and their mothers are among the first victims of such wars. Despite the conventions of modern warfare that forbid armies to target civilians, it is civilians who die in far greater numbers than do soldiers. The more high-tech the army, the more sophisticated its weaponry, the safer the soldiers; but that shield does not extend to citizens. In fact, in many conflicts today, ruthless leaders use an effective strategy to destroy the civil society and culture of the enemy: a deliberate but unacknowledged war against women.

After 9/11, when America was seized by the Bush administration's ruinous enthusiasm for combat, I left the country to practice peace by working elsewhere with women. From 2002 to 2006, I volunteered with humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan. (I've written about what I learned there in an earlier book: Kabul in Winter.) Then, in the fall of 2007, I began to work as an unpaid volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, one of the oldest (more than 75 years) and most respected humanitarian nongovernmental organizations in the world. Its specialty is bringing immediate emergency relief to needful countries in the wake of war. That means mostly clean water, sanitation, basic health care, and basic education—all things I know only a little about. My experience lies in thinking about and working to stop violence against women. So the IRC assigned me to its technical unit that deals with GBV—that's Gender-Based Violence, a gender-neutral euphemism for violence against women. Among international humanitarian organizations, the IRC has taken the lead in working on GBV in direct response to the consequences of modern warfare, in which the principal casualties are not soldiers but civilians, and great numbers of those civilians are women, often targeted precisely because they are women.

Even when a conflict officially ends, violence against women continues and often grows worse. Murderous aggression is not turned off overnight; when men stop attacking one another, women continue to be convenient targets. Opposing factions of men sit down together to negotiate a peace settlement without ever letting up on rape, abduction, mutilation, and murder of women and girls. And whenever soldiers rape during war, rape becomes a habit taken up by civilian men and carried seamlessly from wartime into the troubled "post-conflict" time beyond that is labeled "peace." Wherever normal structures of law enforcement and justice have been disabled by war, soldiers and civilian men alike prey upon women and children with impunity.

So when the International Rescue Committee walks into any post-conflict zone, anywhere in the world, it walks straight into violence against women; and because its long-standing mission is to address human needs created by conflict, it must respond. The IRC recognizes violence against women as a fundamental issue of human rights, a central public health concern, and a major impediment to peacemaking, reconstruction, and development of war-torn countries.

The United Nations agrees and goes further. On October 31, 2000, the Security Council passed Resolution 1325, calling for women to participate fully at decision-making levels in every step of conflict resolution and peace building. Without the active participation of women, the UN argued, no just and lasting peace could be achieved. SCR 1325 was greeted around the world as a great achievement and a victory for women and peace, but later when men in post-conflict countries negotiated agreements, often with the guidance of the UN, they forgot all about it. The usual excuse was that they had to act fast, speed apparently being more important than justice or durability or women.

On June 19, 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed another landmark resolution. SCR 1820 demands "the immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians with immediate effect." It acknowledges the true state of millions of the world's women and girls: objectified, terrorized, brutalized, and...

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Descrizione libro Picador USA, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In 2007, the International Rescue Committee (IRC),which brings relief to countries in the wake of war, wanted to understand what really happened to women, in post-conflict zones. Answers came through the point and click of a digital camera. On behalf of the IRC, Ann Jones spent two years travelling through Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, lending cameras to women who had no other means of telling the world what war had done to their lives. Their photographs are a chronicle of the consequences of modern warfare for the most vulnerable. Animated by the voices of brave and resourceful women, War Is Not Over When It s Over is a powerful dispatch from the ruins. Codice libro della libreria AAV9780312573065

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Descrizione libro Picador USA, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In 2007, the International Rescue Committee (IRC),which brings relief to countries in the wake of war, wanted to understand what really happened to women, in post-conflict zones. Answers came through the point and click of a digital camera. On behalf of the IRC, Ann Jones spent two years travelling through Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, lending cameras to women who had no other means of telling the world what war had done to their lives. Their photographs are a chronicle of the consequences of modern warfare for the most vulnerable. Animated by the voices of brave and resourceful women, War Is Not Over When It s Over is a powerful dispatch from the ruins. Codice libro della libreria BZE9780312573065

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