Gender Wars

By Staff
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The writer and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn once said: “War happens to people, one by one. That is really all I have to say, and it seems to me I have been saying it forever.” Lately, we’ve been paying particular attention to the way war happens to people along the gender line. In the magazine we’ve covered Baghdad’s underground railroad for Iraqi women escaping violence and abuse. On the blogs we’ve written about issues of memory and sexual violence in Peru and mothers of children born of rape in Rwanda.

We’ve collected all of our coverage of gender and sexual violence in war zones here and we’ll continue to update this page.

Last updated: October 19, 2009


Baghdad’s Underground Railroad, Utne Reader (November-December 2009)
Covert shelters help Iraqi women escape violence and abuse. “Sexual violence in Iraq is severely underreported,” writes Anna Badkhen, “and along with other crimes against women and girls, is usually committed with impunity.”

A Celebrity Voice for Gay and Transgendered Iraqis, (September 2009)
Antony Hegarty, the achingly beautiful voice of Antony and the Johnsons, writes a desperate appeal on behalf of Iraqis kidnapped, tortured, and murdered over their sexuality and gender.

Exterminating Gay and Transgendered Iraqis, (August 2009)
A look at a Human Rights Watch report containing several terrible survivor stories and implicating the militias, political, cultural, and religious leaders, and the Iraqi government in violence against Iraq’s LGBT community.

The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq Intensifies, (May 2009)
Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, speaks out about the violence against gay and transgendered Iraqis. “Many older women in my organization were quite opposed to taking up the question of the persecution of homosexuals and didn’t understand why it was important,” she says. “But I firmly believe that misogyny and homophobia are two sides of the same coin, and that we had a duty to speak out against the persecution of gays in Iraq, which is so little known that I was surprised by the extent of it when I began to look into it.”

The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq, Utne Reader (May-June 2009)
An advocacy group in Iraq is tracking police and militias in that country who are waging “a campaign of sexual cleansing,” targeting gays, lesbians, and transgender people for unwarranted arrests and torture, which result in both disappearances and deaths.


Mothers of Children Born of Rape in Rwanda Speak Out, (March 2009)
15 years after the Rwandan genocide, there are an estimated 20,000 children in the country born as a result of Hutu militiamen raping Tutsi women. A photojournalist documents the lives of these children and their mothers.


The Milk of Sorrow: Rape Survivors and the Symptoms of History, (September 2009)
When medical anthropologist Kimberly Theidon visited war ravaged Ayacucho in 1995, she found “charred houses, abandoned farmlands, and innumerable mass graves converted the earth itself into another actor in this tragedy.” What haunted Theidon, however, were her conversations with the women there.


Rape Nation, (July 2004)
Sexual assault is a serious problem in the military. Surveys indicate that 78 percent of military women have experienced sexual harassment, with up to 50 percent experiencing sexual assault.

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