Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: What War Does to Women
Author: Christina Lamb
9780008300012 | PB | pp. 400 | 2020 | HarperCollins Publishers
Our Bodies, Their Battlefields is an eye-opener to the scale of rape and sexual violence towards women in modern conflict.
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‘A wake-up call … These women’s stories will make you weep, and then rage at the world’s indifference.’ Amal Clooney From award-winning war reporter and co-author of I Am Malala, this is the first major account to address the scale of rape and sexual violence in modern conflict. Christina Lamb has worked in war and combat zones for over thirty years. In Our Bodies, Their Battlefield she tells the unheard stories of women in conflict, exposing how in modern warfare rape is used by armies, terrorists and militias as a weapon to humiliate, terrify and carry out ethnic cleansing.Though rape was formalised as an international war crime in 1919, the International Criminal Court has convicted no one. This powerful new book calls on us to listen and to act against this the world’s most neglected war crime. Speaking to survivors first-hand across four continents, Lamb encounters astonishing suffering and bravery of women in war and meets those fighting for justice. From Southeast Asia, where ‘comfort women’ were enslaved by the Japanese during World War II to the Rohingyas tied to banana trees and gang-raped by Burmese soldiers in 2017. From 1970s Bangladesh where hundreds of thousands of women were raped by Pakistani troops to boost the Punjabi population to 1990s Bosnia, where 20,000 women were forced into camps and sexual slavery by Serbian soldiers. Lamb investigates the rapes of an estimated quarter of a million Tutsi women during the Rwandan genocide; the devastating wake of an Argentinian junta; and life in the Middle East today, from the Yazidi women and children enslaved by ISIS to the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. Rape may be as old as war but it is a preventable crime. Lamb’s book demands that we recognise the horrific reality of what rape survivors, mostly women, have lived through. Bearing witness does not guarantee it won’t happen again, but it can eliminate any excuse that the world simply didn’t know.
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