March 09, 2006

To End the War, U.S. Women Must Lead

by Christine Ahn
Every single woman in the United States, whether she is aware of it or not, is impacted by the war in Iraq. There is no more critical time than the present for U.S. women to step up and speak out against the war and the growing militarization of our country and world.
But women soldiers aren't dying only in combat. According to Col. Janis Karpinski, several women soldiers have died of dehydration in their sleep. They refused to drink liquids in the evening because they didn't want to have to urinate after dark for fear of being assaulted or raped by male soldiers on the way to latrines. While incredible, it is not entirely implausible. According to the Miles Foundation, 30 percent of female veterans have reported rape or attempted rape while on active duty. Women of color, younger, poorer, and lower in rank are ! more likely to be assaulted, says a Defense Department report.
While our elected women leaders lack the courage to speak out, ordinary women of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds on the grassroots level are speaking out against the war by writing letters to their representatives, organizing counter-recruitment drives, demonstrating, and running for offi! ce. Aimee Allison, an African-American Persian Gulf War veteran and conscientious objector, is now running for Oakland City Council on an anti-war platform.
It's clear that the Bush administration is intent on war without end. It's clear we cannot rely on our women elected leaders to bring the troops home. We need more brave women soldiers like Tina Garnanez and Aimee Allison and ordinary women like Cindy Sheehan to speak out against the war. We can stop our government's destructive policies if we can find the collective courage to act--for our own sakes and for women worldwide.


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