How War & Conflict Open The Door to Racism & Sexual Slavery

Samantha Inesta
Human Rights Fellow

When there are rumors or escalations of war everyone weighs in on how they think it should go and more often then not it’s visceral, racist and misogynistic. In a recent tweet by Aubrey Huff who plays for the San Francisco Giants, he basically outlined his version of “freedom & liberation for Iranian women. He feels they should be grateful to him and all white American men by invoking an old harem stereotype of fanning him with feathers while feeding him grapes. However, as most of us in the intelligent world know, Harems were basically forced prostitution rings. Women are kept in bondage to their “Master” while satisfying all of his needs, even his sexual ones. Aubrey Huff seems to be alluding to the fact that Iranian women are only good for one thing because they are not white American born and therefore should be treated as slaves-sex slaves to be exact.

Rape, torture, trafficking and sexual bondage is nothing new in times of war, the problem is it’s always overlooked because it happened to women as if we are an acceptable form of collateral damage. In the years of 1932-1945 the Japanese army employed Comfort Women stations all over Asia in order to “help out” the soldiers fighting while satisfying their needs. Hundreds of young South Korean women and girls were kidnapped by the Japanese government and sent to be sex slaves to soldiers who did the most inhumane things to them. They were prisoners of a war that they had no part of. Korean women were looked at as less than to the Japanese and were treated as such. This type of insidious racism cost a lot of these women their lives. They weren’t all Korean either, they came from various parts of Asia, Dutch East Indies, Portuguese Timor, New Guinea, Netherlands and Australia. Anywhere there was a Japanese Territory, there was a comfort station that forced women into a nightmare.

Let’s not forget the gang rape and murder of the 14 year old Iraqi girl Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi on March 12, 2006 and the killing of her family except for her two brothers by American military army men in Mahmudiyah. This was a deliberate premeditated plan to destroy this girl and her family simply because they were Iraqi, the enemy, not worthy of life. These men of the 502 infantry knew exactly what they were doing and how they wanted to do it. There really was no mental instability there, just hatred. And as much as the U.S. military tries to cover these situations up there are many open cases of rape against commanding officers by women who work alongside them are supposed to be considered their colleagues. Excuses and suppression continually push these cases to the back burner further adding to the trauma they experienced. And yet they are still trying to recruit as many young women they can.

Many more stories are out there of foreign militias entering other countries to enslave women sexually and see them as inhumane and there for their pleasure. It should be no surprise considering how some men are trying to roll back the clock on women’s human rights and keep us subservient to them and war is a great platform for them to do it. People have taken sides, it’s us vs. them, they’re different so they must be bad, they’re animals so we must treat them that way and so on. The one thing to remember also is that some of the men that are inflicting this type of violence usually have a wife and kids at home. They think they’re out there being a hero or parents who believe their son is defending the country and fighting for freedoms. War is used as a excuse a scapegoat, it’s wartime, you can’t help what happens. The women who survive that will never forget.

In the United States women of all walks of life experience rape, violence and trafficking, this is daily life for some women. Racism plays a big part because there are large numbers of women and girls of color who experience all of it more than others. In turn when there is a conflict or threat of war involved, it is all of a sudden acceptable to talk about raping and enslaving women from other countries. If we are seeing it happen in a country who is the dominating force and the occupier of other nations and we are not living in a wartime scenario within our borders then imagine how much worse it is abroad. The bottom line is Iranian women or any women for that matter do not need saving by white men in exchange for eternal gratitude at their expense. When we allow tweets like Aubrey Huff’s or any language that portrays non-white women as less than, you open that door that justifies raping, trafficking and killing women & girls in times of war or even peace.

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