Category Archives: rape

Daddy, what did you do in the war?

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Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?

Taken from Chiaroscuro, Melbourne award-winning poet Sandy Jeff’s new book in which she explores the tension of a world that is a place full of dark and light and where humour and sadness intermingle in a show that must go on.

 

 

 

jeffsc-cover-thumbThe Sergeant

Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War

Well, darling, I saw the young men come into bootcamp

and being their sergeant

it was my duty to turn boys into men

into fighting men, you know

so me and some mates initiated them by

shoving a broom handle up their arse

forced slops down their throat

made them drink their own semen chucked them into a shower

and scrubbed them with a wire brush

rubbed their dick and balls and arse with boot polish

sodomised a young bloke

this is the way it is, you know, it’s a boys club

gotta let them know who’s in charge

hell it happened to me and I’m ok

yeah, I’m serving my country and doing me best to turn out real fighting men

you should be proud of me.

 

The Recruit

Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?

Well, darling, first I went to bootcamp

I was taught how to kill

then I was bastardised by me superiors

they shoved a broom handle up my arse

forced slops down me throat

and made me drink semen

they chucked me into the shower and scrubbed me with a wire brush

then rubbed me dick and balls and arse with boot polish

and the sergeant sodomised me

so to get me mind off it

I gave the sheila recruits a hard time

I even secretly filmed meself banging one of them

yep, I was there to serve me country

so I went to war

and killed a lot of men

some women and children too

and ya gotta let the shitheads know who’s boss

so I raped a few of their women

it’s what happens in war

but when me mates got killed

jeeze, that was the hardest

I’m telling ya, I was shit-scared all the time

and being away from me family was hard

jeeze I was lonely

but I’m home now and I feel lousy

I think about topping meself all the time

lots of me mates have done it

jeeze I miss them

I feel so rotten

I’m telling ya tomorrow’s tragedy

from yesterday’s war

yeah, war’s a bloody bugger…a real bugger.

 

 

Men in the great war did many things that we don’t want to talk about, we’d rather see the diggers as heroes, as brave Anzacs. But there’s another untold story and that’s the story of venereal disease in the Australian Army.

Screen shot 2015-06-10 at 7.41.08 PM  The Secrets of the Anzacs: The Untold Story of Venereal Disease in the Australian Army, 1914-1919 written by Raden Dunbar reveals secrets and astonishing statistics such as the fact that during World War 1, about 60,000 soldiers in the Australian army were treated by army doctors in Egypt, Europe and Australia for venereal diseases – almost the same number of diggers who were killed during the war. Janet McCalman, author of Sex and Suffering described Dunbar’s story as  ‘a timely and necessary contribution to the centenary of Anzac.’ 

Most of these men had been infected with venereal disease in the brothels of Egypt. In the 1880s 40,000 British soldiers landed in Egypt and stayed and were the customers of the numerous bars, brothels and sex shows. In 1914, AIF forces from Australia that were headed for England via the Suez Canal were ordered to disembark and to set up their camps close to Cairo with the result that thousands of cashed-up Australians were living very close to the infamous brothels of Cairo and very far from their families at home.

Dunbar writes that the boys had money and freedom and regularly frequented the ‘Wozza’, an irresistible and fabulous place that was really a collection of squalid run-down apartment buildings known for venereal diseases: gonorrhoea, syphilis and chancroid. Condoms were not in common use in 1915 and the healing power of antibiotics was yet to be discovered. Abstinence from sex was the only sure way of avoiding the disease with prophylactic treatments such as antiseptic ointments to be applied to the genitals proving unpopular and rubber condoms extremely uncomfortable. In 1915 gonorrhoea, syphilis and chancroid were treated with drugs made from mercury, arsenic and silver and other toxic materials.

Claire Wright, author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka writes:

 The Secrets of the Anzacs is a full-frontal assault on our senses and our historical sensibilities. Deeply researched and always fascinating, Dunbar helps restore the Anzac legend to something more tangible, more complex, and, oddly, more heroic.’

In this interesting book, Raden Dunbar, retired schoolteacher, principal and university lecturer and author rarely mentions the prostituted women and only briefly acknowledges the wives, girl friends and mothers of the men. His concern and interest is for the infected soldiers of whom one in ten were married. But what of the prostituted women? Why were they forced to prostitute themselves? What do we know about the sex industry in WW1? Were the women in the brothels treated for their venereal disease? What about the wives and girlfriends? Were they infected also?

I would have hoped that researcher and author Claire Wright winner of the 2014 Stella Prize would have commented on the obvious omission in Raden Dunbar’s untold story of venereal disease in the Australian Army, 1914-1919- the women’s story.  In The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, Wright researches the history of Victoria’s gold rushes and the Eureka Stockade – addressing the recording of this episode which has largely ignored the presence and influence of women on the gold fields.

Little is known about what happened to the women who worked in the wartime brothels, especially after the war ended. If it is known that 60,000 Australian soldiers got either gonorrhea or syphilis while serving, then a great many of these women also suffered these diseases.

Their story remains untold.

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Japan’s apology to the survivors of sexual slavery must remain

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 7.56.32 PMIt was with surprise and regret that I read the news that the present Japanese government is considering revoking its apology to the thousands of women forced into prostitution during World War 11.

Tragically up to 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II in one of the world’s biggest cases of sexual trafficking. Most of the women came from Korea, with many also from Japan and the Dutch East Indies. Incredibly the sex slaves became known as ‘comfort women,’ – and the brothels  which were insultingly termed ‘comfort stations’, were spread throughout the Pacific, including then East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 7.25.05 PMAdvertisements such as this one (left)  were to be found on billboards of the day. Not surprisingly they failed to attract volunteers into prostitution and so young girls were kidnapped and taken to military rape camps. Most of the women were under the age of 20, with some as young 12 for whom the rape was their first sexual experience.

Can you believe it?

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Japanese government finally issued a long overdue apology to the surviving  women who’d been forced to serve as sex slaves and although the apology didn’t include compensation, it admitted that the women were “recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, and so on” and “lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere”.

Over recent years the wartime sexual trafficking of women has become a political issue with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe particularly uncomfortable with any reference to the abduction of the women into sexual slavery. Abe is an eager supporter of Japan’s alliance with the U.S. government which insists that Japan stand by the 1993 Kono Declaration issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono to the women forced into military brothels.

So the Japanese government, hell-bent on un-apologising and undoing the words of the apology is doing just this but without officially withdrawing the declaration. Instead it is casting doubts on the credibility of the victims and changing the meaning of the word ‘force’ to refer to only extreme cases where women were abducted by gunpoint.

Japan is not alone in having such a despicable history of sexual violence in war. Take the case of post-war Germany when the Russian army invaded Berlin and took the local women as their sex slaves.Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 4.26.53 PM Presently I’m reading  A Woman in Berlin, the astonishing diary of a woman fighting for survival amid the horror and inhumanity of war. The anonymous author was a 34 year-old journalist who kept a diary during the two-month occupation by the Russians. The author did not want the book to be published during her lifetime. When she died in 2001 her identity was still unknown.

Faced with the inevitable event – her impending rape by Russian soldiers, the ‘Woman in Berlin’ makes up her mind to survive:

I’ll think of something when the time comes. I’ve never been so removed from myself, so alienated. All my feelings seem dead, except for the drive to live. They shall not destroy me.

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In Not a Choice, Not a Job, author Janice Raymond discusses the work of The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) in researching and documenting the role of the U.S. military in buying women and children for prostitution all over the world. Raymond explains that CATW Asia- Pacific has connections with organisations of survivors of prostitution in the Philippines which have documented the abuses of military prostitution users around the various U.S. bases.

Japan is not alone in its abuse of women in wartime but it’s desire to un-apologise for its role in the sexual abuse of thousands of women is regrettable. The world knows that hundreds of thousands of women were forced into sexual slavery to be systemically raped for the pleasure of the Imperial Japanese Army.

The 1993 apology needs to remain.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seek revenge or turn the other cheek – It’s up to Mr Bates!

 

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I missed the episode of Downton Abbey when sweet Anna, maid to Lady Mary Crawley was brutally raped by a visiting valet called Mr Green. Audiences were understandably distressed and Downton fans accused the writers of using a sexual assault to ‘spice up’ the show.

But I suspect there’s much more to come now that Mr Bates, Anna’s husband knows about the rape and is plotting revenge.

Post the rape, Anna, hysterical and bleeding from deep cuts to her lips sought the solace of  Mrs Hughes, the head housekeeper. Anna feeling ‘unworthy’ of her husband, removed herself from their cottage, staying instead in the servants quarters. Bates doesn’t know what has befallen his young wife for Anna refuses his requests for information. But in the latest episode, an angry Mr Bates has managed to force Mrs Hughes into telling what has occurred.

After learning the truth, Bates confronts Anna and mercifully comforts his distraught wife, all the while imploring her to name the assailant. But Anna fears what will happen if her husband learns that it’s the valet, Mr Green. Bates has a troubled history; he was previously convicted of the murder of his first wife for which he spent some time in prison only to be exonerated, due to the diligence and devotion of Anna. He’s also been a soldier , so we know that he’s not a man to avoid conflict.

After Mrs Hughes delivers the grim details of Anna’s rape, Bates turns to the head housekeeper. And just as we fear, the wronged husband states his intentions, “Nothing’s over and done with.”

So what will happen next? Will Bates actually turn to murder this time? Why can’t he leave well alone. Why the revenge? Why can’t he be a good husband and care for the woman who was after all – the one harmed.

What is to be gained from Bates finding out who it was and and maybe getting killed himself, or worse murdering the rapist?

It occurs to me that this is very male behaviour. That another man should dare defile another’s woman – this I fear is the real crux of the matter. The woman is his possession!

But what is really needed is for Bates to support his young wife at her time of need. She may even be pregnant. One thing’s for sure, the next episodes of Downton Abbey are not for the faint- hearted.

 

 

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Australian politicians to study the Nordic model of prostitution

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The news that a group of Australian politicians will spend three weeks in France, Sweden and South Korea  studying prostitution law reform is most welcome. ACT Liberal MLAs Giulia Jones and Vicki Dunne will be joined by West Australian state Liberal backbencher Peter Abetz and Victorian Labor state member Christine Campbell. Continue reading

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Every woman needs a safe home every night

 How do we stop violence against women? 
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This was the topic of a public meeting that I attended last week. 
The speakers were Trish O’Donohue, the CEO of Women’s Information, Support and Housing in the North, Phil Cleary, the  former independent federal MP & anti-violence campaigner, and Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councillor for Moreland. Continue reading

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The mainstreaming of domestic violence

As many as 700,000 Australian workers now have access to paid domestic violence leave and many more are poised to get it. This world-first workplace initiative is attracting keen interest from overseas and according to Ludo McFerran, a campaigner against family violence, Australia is being applauded for it. I have a real problem with domestic violence being treated in this manner. Continue reading

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From empowerment to Women’s Liberation


The tragic rape and senseless murder of Brunswick woman Jillian Meagher  reminds us that women are still  not free from male violence.   Continue reading

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