Today is November the 11th, and everywhere you see the red poppies. My Mom’s Dad served in both world wars and my Dad’s great uncle died in France in the first world war, so I understand that people want to remember what they have lost. It strikes me though that the poppy has us remembering the wrong things, should we really be remembering all those soldiers? Should we really be talking about valour, camaraderie, or honour? Maybe we should try ruminating on this.
“Historically, as many civilians as soldiers have been killed in wars. In the 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century, civilians represented some 50% of war related deaths. In the 1960's civilians accounted for 52% of deaths; in the 1970's, for 73%; in the 1980's, for 85% and at the close of the century for over 95%.
Or maybe we should be remembering this.
* In World War II, Japanese soldiers forced between 100,000 and 200,000 women into sexual slavery. Most were from Korea, but others came from Burma, China, Holland, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. These so-called "comfort women" were usually sent to the front lines where they were forced into sexual slavery. Some underwent forced hysterectomies to prevent menstruation and thereby make them constantly available. More than half of the women and girls died as a direct result of the treatment they received. Many survivors were detained in the program for 3 to 5 years, and most were raped 5 to 20 times per day. For 3 years of enslavement, this comes to a low estimate of 7500 rapes per person. Japan has not compensated any of these victims.
* Rape occurred during the Vietnam War. Perpetrators included US soldiers; few have been brought to justice.
* During Bangladesh's 9-month war for independence in 1971, between 250,000 and 400,000 girls and women were raped, leading to an estimated 25,000 pregnancies.
* In Rwanda, at least 250,000 women were raped in the 1994 genocide.
* During the 1990s, more than 20,000 Muslim women were raped as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign in Bosnia.
* Credible allegations of sexual humiliation and rape against female detainees at US facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq have been well documented.
* Other conflicts in which rape was widespread include civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.
These stats came from an article by Martin Donohoe, MD, at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/491147. Unfortunately when you try to click on the link you get Medscape log-in page. If you want to read the whole article you should google the title “War, Rape, and Genocide: Never Again?” you can click into it from that link.
So I won’t be wearing a red poppy today, or any November 11th. I think they miss the point. If I am going to wear any poppy at all, it will be a white one.