‘Africa’s Women and Children Are Main Casualties of Conflicts’

Posted on 09 February 2011 by admin

By Thandi Winston

DAKAR, Feb 9 (TerraViva) – One of Africa’s leading daughters and feminists, the Nigerian scholar Amina Mama says militarism is spreading, especially in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia. She says war and conflict are especially affecting vulnerable women and children.Mama was speaking to IPS on the sidelines of the World Social Forum about militarism on the continent and feminist debates at this year’s forum.


Rape survivor in Malawi's Dzaleka camp for Congolese refugees: every month, seven to ten cases of gender-based violence are reported; few perpetrators are brought to justice. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Rape survivor in Malawi's Dzaleka camp for Congolese refugees: every month, seven to ten cases of gender-based violence are reported; few perpetrators are brought to justice. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

“Women and children have become the casualties of conflicts, whether you call it post-colonial conflict or not, I believe corporate interests have fueled the conflicts,” she said.

The human rights violations exacted upon women during conflict have been devastating. In a 1999 survey of Rwandan women as part of the Global Fund for Women’s (GFW) Militarism Initiative, 39 percent reported being raped during the 1994 genocide. Seventy-two percent said they knew someone who had been raped.

In a random sample of 388 Liberian refugee women living in camps in Sierra Leone, three-quarters reported being sexually abused before being displaced from their homes in Liberia. GFW found more than half had experienced sexual violence since being displaced.

Approximately 50,000 to 64,000 internally displaced women were targets of sexual violence during Sierra Leone’s protracted armed conflict.

Mama, who is the founding editor of Africa’s first continental feminist scholarly journal, ‘Feminist Africa’, currently chairs the board of the Global Fund for Women, which makes grants to women-led organisations around the world.

“There have been changes in the nature of conflict and war in certain parts of Africa,” she says, “These changes are leading to a particular [type of] policing, surveillance and violence against women. It’s been accumulating over time.

Congo is an example, if you trace back the violence and rape, it started during the Belgian colonial period. This was their practice.

“And today men have absorbed that culture and misogyny of Western militarism that colonialism has taught them.”

Mama is currently working with African women activists in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia to develop to develop a clearer understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and children.

(END/2011)

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