Women around the world have been organizing for decades to bring attention to the issue of violence against women, and their efforts have generated major successes. Now, violence against women is an issue on the agendas of governments and international institutions like the UN, which has helped to counter a generations-long silence.
But whose voices are filling in the silence? It is unsettling when those people whose words and actions have undermined the fight for women’s rights suddenly begin to “talk the talk.” MADRE Communications Director Yifat Susskind addressed this in her article “Conscripting Feminism into the War on Terror”:
Since the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush Administration has resurrected the hackneyed colonial notion that its military intervention is intended to save Muslim women from their oppressive societies. As Laura Bush said shortly after 9-11, "The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."
Few Middle Eastern women believe this. In Iraq, for instance, women know that their work for equal rights has been undermined by US intervention. In general, the US has preferred to support authoritarian leaders who systematically violate women's rights. It's easier to get a tiny elite or a single strongman to implement US policy than it is to ensure that real democracy swings in favor of US interests.
In this video, recorded at an event on violence against women sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Yifat explains how the women’s movement can respond to this cooptation.
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