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June 12, 2008

The Strategic Use of Rape as a Weapon in War and Ethnic Cleansing

An excellent research paper by Kristy Reddick - Spring 2008

Throughout the countless wars of human history, rape and other forms of sexual violence have been perpetrated against citizens by advancing soldiers and occupational military forces. While in the past, rapes and other sexual aggressions have been considered as random occurrences taking place in the "fog of war", increasing evidence may prove to debunk this social myth, especially in cases of ethnic cleansing and genocide. The opportunistic rape and pillage of previous centuries has been replaced in modern conflict by rape used as an orchestrated combat tool, (Smith-Spark, 2008) used to humiliate and demoralize individuals and cause ruinous rifts between spouses, extended family members and whole communities.

A consensus concerning the strategic use of rape and other forms of sexual violence is growing among members of human rights groups, aid agencies and independent journalists. I intend upon utilizing data provided by these sources to debunk the social myth that the rapes being committed in contemporary armed conflicts are random, uncoordinated events to which the affects are not considered by the perpetrators.

International Law Regarding "Crimes against Humanity" and Rape
Although the phrase "crimes against humanity" was coined in 1907, the crimes falling within its scope were left largely unspecified until the 1945 charters of the International Military Tribunals for Germany and Japan defined such crimes as "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population". The Tribunal charters were left deliberately vague to permit the evolution of the term and inclusion of a wide range of violations. (Gingerich, 2004). During the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949, an initiative called for the special protection of woman "against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution or any form of indecent assault" . The United Nations defines rape as "...a physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive" and has stated that like torture, rape in times of war is specifically prohibited by treaty law, (The United Nations, 1998).

The Woman's International League for Peace and Freedom expresses the belief that rape should be considered a method of warfare when armed forces or groups use it to "torture, injure, extract information, degrade, intimidate, punish or simply destroy the fabric of the community" (Cross, 2008).

Evidence of Mass Rape and Sexual Violence in Contemporary Wars and Conflicts Involving Ethnic Cleansing
The extent to which mass rapes and sexual violence has been used as a method of warfare and in conflicts involving ethnic cleansing is staggering. Due to a variety of social and cultural forces which prohibit many victims of rape and sexual violence to report their cases, the exact numbers of civilians who have been brutalized can not be known. However, documented accounts of rape and the data provided by numerous surveys conducted throughout the last 20 years provide a startling glimpse of the scope of affected populations in conflicts occurring in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. In a co-authored report intended for the International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond, Mendy Marsh and Jeanne Ward site the following data provided in a November, 2005 IRIN/OCHA report;

By 1993, the Zenica Centre for the Registration of War and Genocide Crime in Bosnia-Herzegovina had documented 40,000 cases of war-related rape.

Of a sample of Rwandan women surveyed in 1999, 39 percent reported being raped during the 1994 genocide and 72 percent said that they knew someone who had been raped.

An estimated 23,200 to 45,600 Kosovar Albanian women are believed to have been raped between August 1998 and August 1999 during the height of conflict with Serbia.

Based on the outcomes of a study undertaken in 2000, researchers concluded that approximately 50,000 to 64,000 internally displaced women may have been sexually victimized during Sierra Leone's protracted armed conflict.

Of a sample of 410 internally displaced Columbian women in Cartagena who were surveyed in 2003, 8 percent reported some form of sexual violence prior to being displaced and 11 percent reported being abused since their displacement.

Currently in Sudan, the widespread incidences of rape may be viewed as a weapon of war employed by the Janjaweed militia in conjunction with other efforts to devastate, displace, and destroy the tribal peoples of the Darfur region. In May of 2004, Amnesty International delegates collected 500 testimonies of woman who had been raped in the context of the conflict. However, the testimonies collected, combined with the reports of sexual violence collected by the UN, independent journalists and non-governmental organizations in Darfur, indicates beyond doubt that the occurrence of rape and other forms of sexual violence is widespread, (Amnesty International , 2004). Physicians for Human Rights notes that during 1998 and 2003, an estimated 33 percent of the women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were raped in the ensuing conflict, including up to 80 percent of woman in any given community. The International Rescue Committee estimates that for every rape reported, 30 are not, (Gingerich, 2004). Reporting from the Eastern Congo in November of 2007, journalist Chris McGreal stated;

It is not only the scale of the rape [in the Congo] that is significant but the brutality that often accompanies it. Hospitals have treated women who have had guns, sticks and tin cans thrust into their vaginas after being raped. Armed men have also cut babies from the bellies of pregnant women after raping them, (McGreal, 2007).

Systematic Rape as an Affective War Strategy to Destabilize Communities and Families

Systematic rape is often carried out by fighting forces for the explicit purpose of destabilizing populations and destroying bonds within communities and families. In these instances, rape is often a public act, aimed to maximize humiliation and shame, (Marsh, 2006). Reports from the conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia indicate that rape not only served as a "reward" to soldiers, but was also used as an "instrument of terror" and to "impregnate...destroy or dilute culture,...torture,...and dehumanize" woman, (Gingerich, 2004).

As noted by Mendy Marsh and Jeanne Ward, wartime rape may serve to discourage "resistance by instilling fear in local communities or in opposing armed groups. In such cases, women's bodies are used as an envelope to send messages to the perceived enemy. Particularly in conflicts defined by racial, tribal, religious and other divisions, violence may be used to advance the goal of ethnic cleansing". Reporting on the ensuing violence in the Eastern Congo, Chris McGreal noted in a November 2007 article for the UK based Guardian that it is widely believed by aid workers that rape is being used by the Mai Mai traditional militia and the renegade Tutsi soldiers known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda to break civilian support for rivals or punish "undesirable" ethnic groups. McGreal interviewed Augustine Augier, an administrator with the medical aid charity Medecins sans Frontieres at the Rutshuru hospital in the eastern Congo. Augier explained that countless women and children are raped in village attacks by soldiers or combatants with an intent to "terrorize communities into accepting their control or to punish them for real or supposed links to opposing forces" (McGreal, 2007).

When a war aims to include the ethnic cleansing or annihilation of a particular group, systematic rape could arguably be deployed to manipulate norms of honor, chastity, virginity, femininity, masculinity, loyalty, marriage, and kinship, (Cross, 2008). Thus women who have been raped or are victims of other sexual transgressions often are faced with the destabilization of their families and ruination of their marriages. As is the case in most African cultures, a married woman who engages in sexual relations with a man other than her husband is seen as "unclean" and deserves to be ostracized from the family unit, regardless of incidences of sexual coercion or rape. Women that are victims of sexual violence are often seen as bringing "dishonor" to their husbands. In turn, husbands are justified within the context of cultural norms to abandon their wives or even kill them in order to salvage the family's reputation, a so-called "honor killing", (Marsh, 2006). Fear of rejection or reprisal silences many rape victims from documenting the transgression.

The Devastating Affects of Rape and Sexual Violence upon the Victim's Health

Sexual violence against women in war and its aftermath can have almost inestimable short and long-term negative health consequences. As a result of the systematic and exceptionally violent gang rape of thousands of Congolese women and girls, doctors in the DRC are now classifying vaginal destruction as a "crime of combat", (Marsh, 2006).
Mendy Marsh and Jeanne Ward site HIV/AIDS as one of the most devastating physical health consequences of rape and sexual assaults occurring in contemporary wars and ethnic conflicts. In a study conducted in the year 2000, it was found that of 1,000 widows of the Rwandan genocide, 67 percent of rape survivors were HIV-positive. In the same year, the United Nations Secretary-General concluded, "Armed conflicts ... increasingly serve as vectors for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which follows closely on the heels of armed troops and in the corridors of conflict", (Marsh, 2006).

Rape can have other severe consequences for a woman's physical health, including the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, massive internal trauma, miscarriages, infertility, and incontinence. Raped woman often must deal with an unwanted pregnancy and may opt to abort or abandon the child due to horror and stigma under which he or she was conceived. Many women choose to accept and care for these children born of rape, at the risk of rejection from their communities or blame for the misfortune of the family. The child may have no real surname or worse be stateless and have no social standing or inheritance rights in communities where the paternity determines the child's name and nationality, (Marsh, 2006).

The physical and mental distress suffered by victims of wartime rape results in agonizing and enduring psychological trauma and severe depression. John Holmes, a journalist with the Los Angeles Times commented in his recent article Congo's Rape War that "sexual violence is an affront not only to the body but to the soul and dignity of every woman assaulted" (Holmes, 2007). A Tutsi survivor of the Rwandan genocide spoke of the lasting scars of the transgressions she endured and the violence she witnessed in an interview with the Human Rights Watch. During an attack, Hutu militia men gang raped and beat her unconscious. When she awoke, she witnessed the brutal murder of all the people around her. Her testimony exemplifies the persisting and acute pain experienced by conflict victims the world over:

I regret that I didn't die that day. Those men and women who died are now at peace whereas I am still here to suffer even more. I'm handicapped in the true sense of the word. I don't know how to explain it. I regret that I'm alive because I've lost my lust for life. We survivors are broken-hearted. We live in a situation which overwhelms us. Our wounds become deeper every day. We are constantly in mourning, (Marsh, 2006).

Targeting the "Norms" of Violence in Times of War and Peace

Efforts to punish the perpetrators of "crimes against humanity" within the context of rape as a weapon of warfare are continuously being undertaken by human rights organizations and the highest international criminal courts. In addition to this pursuit, many people involved in efforts to bring an end to the extreme sexual violence endured by woman and girls in unstable regions of the world are advocating the necessity of examining the societal and relational contexts in which violence against women and girls occurs. War may be seen as setting the precedent of widespread tolerated violence towards women. Ann Jones, a writer, photographer and current volunteer with the Gender-Based Volunteer unit of the International Rescue Committee states "the pattern of assaulting women, once adopted as a tactic of war, has become a habit with ex-combatants...civilians have adopted it too", (Jones, 2008). On the other hand, the extent to which mass rapes and other sexual transgressions are occurring during contemporary warfare may be attributed to the degree to which violence towards women is tolerated in some societies. In his report "Rape and HIV/AIDS in Rwanda", P. Donovan writes:

In a world where sex crimes are too often regarded as misdemeanors during times of law and order, surely rape will not be perceived as a high crime during war, when all the rules of human interaction are turned on their heads, and heinous acts regularly earn their perpetrators commendation. ... What matters most is that we combine the new acknowledgment of rape's role in war with a further recognition: humankind's level of tolerance for sexual violence is not established by international tribunals after war. That baseline is established by societies, in times of peace. The rules of war can never really change as long as violent aggression against women is tolerated in everyday life.

The Social Myth of Wartime Rapes as Random Occurrences is Debunked
The extent to which mass rapes and other forms of sexual violence have come to characterize modern conflicts and campaigns of ethnic cleansing indicates it's utility as an affective weapon of warfare. Evidence of the extent to which rape is used to destroy the lives of individuals and destabilize marriages, undermine families and devastate entire communities further signifies that it should not be dismissed as a random occurrence, taking place in "the fog of war" but is a brutal and premeditated tactic fully considered by its perpetrators.

It is my belief that efforts must continue within the International Criminal Court to prosecute soldiers and ex-combatants who have used rape as a war tactic. I fully support human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and aid groups like Medecins sans Frontieres in their efforts to advocate and provide support for the victims of conflict zones. I have an immense amount of respect for these groups and for independent journalists and volunteers who are working tirelessly to bring the world's attention to the strategic use of rape as a weapon of war.

Works Cited
Amnesty International . (2004, July 19). Darfur: Rape as a Weapon of War: Sexual Violence and its Consequences. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR54/076/2004

Cross, I. C. (2008, Feburary). Women and War: Sexual Violence. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from Women's International League for Peace and Freedom: http://www.peacewomen.org/resources/Human_Rights/womenandwar08.pdf

Donavon, P. (2002). "Rape and HIV/AIDS in Rwanda". Supplement to The Lancet: Medicine and Conflict , p. 18.

Gingerich, T. L. (2004, October). The Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in the Conflict in Darfur, Sudan. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from PhysiciansForHumanRights.org: http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/report-2004-oct-darfurrape.html

Holmes, J. (2007, October 11). Congo's Rape War. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from The Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/new/opinion/la-oe-holmes11oct11,0,1470825,print.story

Jones, A. (2008, May 13). African Women Making Change. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from MotherJones.com: http://www.motherjones.com/cgi-bin/print_article.pl?url.html.

Marsh, M. &. (2006, June 21-23). Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls. Retrieved June 2, 2008, from UNFPA: http://www.unfpa.org/emergencies/symposium06/docs/finalbrusselsbriefingpaper.pdf

McGreal, C. (2007, November 17). Hunderds of thousands of women raped for being on the wrong side. Retrieved May 31, 2008, from guardian.co.uk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/nov/12/congo.international/print

Smith-Spark, L. (2008, May). How Did Rape Become a Weapon of War? Retrieved May 14, 2008, from BBC News.com: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/4078677.stm

The Economist. (2007, December 6). War's Other Victims. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from Economist.com: http://www.economist.com/world/international/PrinterFriendly.fcm?story_id=10253410

The United Nations. (1998, December 10). The Prosecutor v. Anto Furundzija - Case No. IT-95-17/1-T . Retrieved June 2, 2008, from Judicial Supplement 1 - UN: http://www.un.org/icty/Supplement/supp1-e/furundzija.htm

June 11, 2008

How the poor stay poor

This is an excellent research paper by Jeremiah Ashbaugh - Spring 2008

I chose this topic because there does not seem to be a week that goes by that I hear some comment from a friend, family member, the media, or just someone in passing that seems to falsely explain the poverty situation. It has become obvious to me that American's in general really buy the "pull yourself up by bootstraps" theory, hook, line and sinker. My mother, who raised me, came from a poor family of twelve brothers and sisters and sometimes around mealtime, it was survival of the fittest. Needless to say, I have also been socialized to think that the homeless and poor create their own problems and if they wanted to do better, they could, just like my mom and her siblings. That the lower class and poor are lazy and that they do nothing but drain the money out of the hard working pockets of people who have pulled themselves up by their boot straps. Through much observation, life experience, a decent amount of reading, and some informative classes I have concluded that this issue is far more complex then the general public understands.

I will attempt to explain other causes, other than that they are simply lazy, for the poor staying poor. There are many reasons that lead to the lower class and people in poverty staying in poverty, I will focus on just a few of these. I will explore how the middle class helps to keep the lower class and those in poverty in their respective classes. I will discuss how media gives the false promises and helps the poor stay poor by making unconscious consumers out of them. The media also makes unconscious consumers out of the middle class, and by doing this, it facilitates growth for the wealthy. I will also look at the disproportionate amount of access to resources that the lower class has as compared to the rich or middle classes and how this helps keep them down. By discussing these things, I hope to shed some light on the difficult issue of poverty.

How the middle class helps keep the rich rich and the poor poor.

A developing theory of mine has been that as long at the middle class stays relatively content, they will never push for the reform it takes to truly help the lower classes. It is almost as if the middle class acts as a mere buffer to keep the lower classes of the backs of the wealthy. It is not my idea that the middle class consciously holds down the lower classes but that the middle class has been somewhat of an unconscious control mechanism. Most social reform seems to come at a time when poverty strikes a society, the rich have gotten to rich and not shared this wealth and large numbers of the middle class join the lower classes. Leonhardt talks about this trend as it is currently happening by stating (2008), "But the larger point is still crucial: the modern American economy distributes the fruits of its growth to a relatively narrow slice of the population." The middle and lower classes do not receive much of this "slice", but unless the middle class recognizes this, things tend not to change. The lower classes never have enough people to turn back the ways that support the upper classes, unless the middle classes join them.

During the depression, Ohio History Central noted that (2005), "By 1932, twelve million Americans were unemployed. Approximately one out of every four American families no longer had an income." Those numbers show a middle class that shrank and thus a lower class that was enlarged and emboldened. There was sweeping social reform during this era with new programs and policies like, more restrictions and regulations on corporate behavior, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Civil Works Administration, and the National Industrial Recovery Act. All of these came under the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Ohio History Central, 2005).If the middle class had not been impacted by policies that made the rich richer and had been kept moderately stable, I doubt there would have been such sweeping changes. The U.S. Department of State further states that (n.d.), "Indeed, historians generally credit the New Deal with establishing the foundations of the modern welfare state in the United States." Ironically, Roosevelt never liked the term welfare, as he was more apt to be against direct handouts and preferred work programs (Starnes, n.d.). It is possible that Roosevelt merely redefined the idea of what welfare was or could be. As modest as our welfare state is in comparison to that of other modern European societies, it was none-the-less a step in the direction of taking care of the lower class and poor. Our current economy could lead to one of those times when the middle class wakes up and looks to help the lower class, or they may just join the lower class. Lumby states (2008), "Unlike what happened during the economic boom of the 1990s, lower- and middle-class families did not share in the prosperity of recent years, the report found. In fact, the United States has had its longest jobless recovery and slowest rate of payroll growth during this decade." I see this as a sign that we could be heading to a new "New Deal".

It is easy pin the responsibly for the raw deal the lower class gets on bulging pockets of the rich and wealthy. They are the ones making windfall profits while the poor and middle class gain the same or as in recent times, less. My reason for putting the blame on the middle class is because the wealthy will always seek more wealth, this has never stopped and I cannot see this way of being becoming extinct in the near future. The only times that I have seen it held in check and think that it can be held in check is when the middle class does not let it self be appeased by the upper class and it joins the lower classes fighting for equality. Maybe, by voting in politicians that are not in the pockets of the wealthy, ones that will create fair tax codes and recycle some of the enormous wealth accumulated at the top back down in to programs that help alleviate the barriers associated with poverty will we gain control of this problem. My idea is, contradictory to that of functional theorist, is that we can have capitalism and that is does not need function with a lower class or the poor but a well regulated upper class, thus creating maybe two classes, the class of enough and the class of a little more than enough.

The media

To me, the media has been one of the main spokespersons for the idea of, "anyone can ascend to the top and they just need to work hard to get there." They share the rags to riches story of Sam Walton in way that makes us all think we can achieve it. Butch discusses, (n.d.) "In his 1992 article "Social Mobility in Television Comedies" (Critical Studies in Mass Communication), Lewis Freeman found that upward mobility in sitcoms of 1990-1992 was achieved through self-sacrifice and reliance, reinforcing the ethic of individualism which makes each person responsible for his or her socio-economic status. Thus one's status is an indicator of one's ability, character and moral worth." In my mind, this creates a false sense of accessibility to the upper classes and a potentially hazardous behavior. If middle and lower classes think they can have all of things they see on TV by just working hard, and then come to find out as the often do, that it is not so possible, they become dejected and defeated. Ironically, all along the way of the journey to become wealthy or move up in class, the middle and lower classes assist the rich becoming more affluent by working hard for others gain and buying the products that are supposed to make them feel like the happy people on television. Beyond sitcoms, my television, radio, and print media experiences have shown me many rags to riches stories but I can hardly recall a story about the person who worked so very hard to only come up with nothing.

The media also demonstrates to the public that to be happy is to consume. By consuming and buying the products that will supposedly make us happy, we fund large corporations getting richer. Even worse, the large corporations make more money by outsourcing the production of the products we buy to other countries, which in turn neglects the consumer who buys the products in the first place. The media, specifically sitcoms, have been portraying mass consumption as the way to be for ages. Butsch shares, "In a 1986 Cultural Anthropology article George Lipsitz examined seven ethnic working class TV sitcoms from the 1950s and found sentimental images of ethnic families combined with themes promoting consumption." It is not that we have to stop consuming as a society; it is that the media portrays consumption on a level that is not sustainable for all classes. The wealthy will not feel the pinch if they over consume or over borrow as much as the middle class and the lower class will.

Unequal access to resources

Easier access to resources like education and healthcare give an upper hand to the upper class and help keep the stratified class system in the United States intact. By not having equal access to things like education and healthcare, the middle and the lower classes have a difficult, if not nearly an impossible time, ascending their respective classes. Whether these systems are conscious creations of the upper class or not, they do work in the favor of the wealthy and they help not only keep them rich but often help them grow richer.


For ten years, I have been witnessing the unequal access to education through my work with an organization called College Summit. I have seen thousands of students with grades good enough to make it in to college, not go to college because of various reasons, the most prominent being financial resources. The College Summit website states, "Up until this point, our education system has not systematically ensured that all young people who are college-ready actually make it to college. National data indicates that low-income students who got A's on a standardized test went to college at the same rate as top-income students who got D's on the same standardized test" (n.d.). This shows me that it is not merely grades that distinguish those who can attend college but more a factor of wealth. Bogle shares (2008), "For some time, US public colleges and universities have responded to cuts in state and federal funding by raising tuition and hiring part-time instead of full-time instructors (presently, approximately one half of the nation's college faculty are working under part-time contracts). Both actions have made it increasingly difficult for middle- and working-class students to attain a quality higher education. As tuition has risen, many students have been forced to work more hours (sometimes at two to three part-time jobs), take out more loans, or simply forgo higher education altogether." The increased cost of higher education serves the wealthy and not the lower classes by eliminating one of the resources that could potentially even the playing field. When the government, "the protector of the people", cut funding for schools, it becomes unclear who they are protecting. College graduates simply make more than non-college graduates do. Via the U.S. Census, Day and Newburger published these findings (2002), Adults ages 25 to 64 who worked at any time during the study period5 earned an average of $34,700 per year.6 Average earnings ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates, and $99,300 for workers with professional degrees (M.D., J.D., D.D.S., or D.V.M.)" When you consider the cost of graduate school, it becomes daunting for a student to consider this amount of dept as opposed to a student who comes from a wealthy family, where they can simply foot the bill for their children's education. The lack of access to education creates barriers for the middle and lower classes and helps keep the current class system strong and difficult to maneuver up out of the lower classes.


The healthcare system in the United States serves the wealthy and to some extent forgets the lower classes. As in education, the access to healthcare is dictated by the amount of resources a person or family has. The more resources, the better health or healthcare one can receive. When economic choices have to be made between education and healthcare, education will lose. Yardley observed (2008) that in Oregon, 600,000 people do not have healthcare and the government money reserved for healthcare will only cover about 24,000 of them. This leaves an enormous gap and this means that the people that do not receive benefits have to direct major portions of the income to cover their health care. Most cannot cover this cost and go in to spirally and insurmountable dept. Add massive dept to the barriers the lower class face and once again it makes it nearly impossible for them to ascend their class. It seems that a middle class family is always one medical disaster away from being moved down in the lower class. One of the uninsured people, like Louanne Moldovan, who Mirchandani shares about (2008), "They are unpaid medical bills, stretching back a year, arising from treatment for Crohn's Disease, the chronic intestinal condition she suffers from. She thinks she owes nearly $15,000", has a hard time of recovering from such giant unplanned bills. The simple obstacle just being able to get work to earn an income comes to mind when healthcare is not provided to all. Healthcare should not be a barrier any class has to face in a modern society but it is in the United States, thus keeping the poor poor and rich rich.

Both education and health care are thing the government could manage in a way that would help create equal opportunities for all. With out these two things being accessible to all, I find it very difficult to imagine the class structure of the United States every changing. From this perspective, I see the government as being somewhat responsible for the poor remaining poor.


I have only discussed three of the sociological obstacles that help keep the United States stratified class system in place, there are many more. By just considering these three phenomena, one can already see how difficult it might be for the middle and lower classes to ever move up in our supposedly open and free system. If pulling your self up by your bootstraps would be all that it took, I image there would be hardly any people in poverty as there would be so many who were rich that the mere scraps they share with the rest of the society would more than cover those who did not grab and pull hard on their straps.

Butsch, R. (n.d.). Social class and television. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/S/htmlS/socialclass/socialclass.htm

Cheeseman, D. & Newburger, E. (2002, July). The Big Payoff: Educational
Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-210.pdf

College Summit. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.collegesummit.org/school-districts/superintendents-and-principals/college-enrollment-gap/

Great Depression (2005, July 1). Ohio History Central, Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=500

Leonhardt, D. (2008, April 9). For Many, a Boom That Wasn't. New York Times. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/business/09leonhardt.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Luhby T. (2008, April 8). As income gap widens, recession fears grow. CNN Money.com. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/overview.htm

The Depression in the United States--An Overview. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/depression/overview.htm

U.S. Department of State (n.d). A New Coalition. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-99.htm

Starnes, R. (n.d.). The History Teacher. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ht/35.1/br_3.html

Yardley, W. (2008, Marth 13th). Drawing Lots for Health Care. The New York Times. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/us/13bend.html

Starnes, R. (n.d.). The History Teacher. Retrieved June 10th, 2008, from http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ht/35.1/br_3.html

June 9, 2008

Women incarcerated: Why life behind bars?

An excellent example of a research paper by Tiffany Rozee - June 2008

Today, roughly149,000 women are incarcerated throughout the United States. (TIME Magazine Tammerlin/ Drummmond, Miami 2000) What has contributed to women being sent to jail, and how are they treated in prisons that were designed and structured for men? When a new methodology was introduced called the feminist scholarship (Belknap in 2001) there was more information brought to light on why women committed crimes, and how gender plays a large part in the type of crimes.

The feminist scholarship and "feminist criminology" focused on inequality and oppression of women by analyzing different steps in feminism, and the differences with women, gender and crime. (Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Crime Future Directions for Feminist Criminology Amanda Burgess-Proctor Michigan State University) Because until recently, "research into crime and deviance was focused on men and why they committed crimes, there was little emphasis placed on women, who were only looked as possible accomplices or prostitutes." (Anderson, M and Taylor, H Sociology in everyday life.) The feminine scholarship on criminology was developed because feminists "objected to the exclusion of gender in criminology analysis." (Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Crime Future Directions for Feminist Criminology Amanda Burgess-Proctor Michigan State University) Men and women have been given assigned and socialized into completely different roles in society, variety of obstacles, and lead completely different lives" they can not be pooled into one generic bowl of data."

War on Drugs
Over the last ten years, researchers have argued that the "war on drugs" is to blame for the increase of women being incarcerated. With harsh rulings and a "lock them up and throw away the key "attitude, when it comes catching people doing or selling drugs. Rather than taking the time and money to tackle the real issue. The justice system takes a "out of sight out of mind" approach to the problem surrounding drugs in society. So what could be the reason why there are so many problems with drugs? Is it people's constant fear, and dismay of life or their situation? Maybe people have been taught you have to live up to the fantasy life style shown on television and without money you can't. People sell drugs because they are poor, and they have no other way, and have been taught by watching others that's what they need to do to live, and to make it in the world. There are so many reasons why people do or sell drugs, and so many more inequalities that play a part that lead them to do so.

Some researchers and scholars have gone as far as to say "the war on drugs has become a war on women"(Belknap 2002; Bloom & Chesney-Lind 2000; Owen, 2000 & 1998, Cheney-Lind 1997) the bureau of Justice Statistics has found 1 in 3 women are doing time for drug offenses, there is measurable gender-based difference in the rates of this increase.(Drug Policy, Barbara Owen Department of Criminology California State University Fresno) "Racism and economic discrimination are inextricably linked to sexism in our culture, creating severe inequalities in the court system and the prison system." (May 1994 issue report of Women's Economic Agenda Project) Even without contributing or being present in criminal activity, a woman involved with a drug offender may suffer eviction, forfeiture, and the imposition of a greater disproportion of family responsibilities.("Counting the Drug War's Female Casualties" Phyllis Goldfarb George Washington University Law School) Because women rarely have an adequate amount of information, they can offer in to police or lawyers, to help the prosecution in many cases due to the lack of direct involvement, or fear of retaliation, women have very little to use as a bargaining tool during sentencing, to plea a bargain and usually end up with an un fair long, prison sentence.

Statistics show that the majority of violent crimes involving innocent people are not by women, or men use illegal drugs, cocaine of methamphetamine etc. but involve alcohol, which is a main contributor in many violent crimes. "Illegal drugs and violence are linked primarily through drug marketing: disputes among rival distributors, arguments and robberies involving buyers and sellers, property crimes committed to raise drug money and, more speculatively, social and economic interactions between the illegal markets and the surrounding communities." (Schaffer drug s) Why people are are being thrown in jail for drug use, if they have not committed a violent crime? Why they are not sent to rehab or a separate facility all together with so many "new prisons" being built? Why not have separate systems for drug offenders? It has been said that the rise in drug offenses are due in part to prohibition much like when alcohol was illegalized, and the noticeable crime increase during alcohol prohibition. Why Inter mingle women and men convicted of drug crimes, in a prisons with hard criminals, who have been convicted of more severe or crimes that they committed with a "clear mind". Meaning they weren't on drugs when they committed the crime, and their judgment wasn't impaired. These two completely different criminals need to be kept separate from one another. By sending these women and men who have drug problems to prison, you are only creating a "new" kind of criminal. The real criminals in prison, doing time for various crimes teach the ones coming in on basic criminal charges-of drug possession and/ or distribution, to become a more effective criminal when they get out. Or treat them with such abuse there is damage done to the prisoner put in jail on drug charges, that is irreversible and detrimental to their wellbeing and possibly destroys the chance they had for recovery. The prisons system has made these men and women feel "that they have nothing to lose, they now have a criminal record" which will forever tarnish their "status" and "role" in society. They will have a harder time getting a job, and credit. They may have already lost their jobs before entering the systems, family, respect and their house. This stripping of all assets has a rippling effect on someone; they will feel there is no other way to survive but to continue a life of crime.

One way to analysis women and crime was best described by "(Pollock, 2002; Belknap, 2001; Chensey-Lind, 1997). "Research on women in prison has reveled that women's criminality must be understood in terms of the context of women's lives". They described three central issues that shape a women's life before imprisonment, that plays a vital role to why a women ends up in prison: Abuse in previous relationships; primarily by a male, problems in family and personal relationships, children (primarily with males) and drug use. "(Pollock, 2002; Belknap, 2001; Chensey-Lind, 1997). If women have had a history of abuse, sexual, physical has shown to lead to drug use; chances are a life of crime is what this will amount to, and increase in imprisonment for women. About 80 percent of women inmates have already experienced some kind of sexual or physical abuse before prison. (Powerless in prison: Sexual Abuse against Incarcerated Women: Nicole Summer, RH Reality Check on December 2007) If statistics show how women have been imprisoned in part, to some type of abuse either by the person they committed a crime towards, or in a previous setting sometime in their life, why isn't there a different system in place for women? Abuse is something women are much more susceptible to than a man. Men battle with physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse, in most cases by their father or other male family member. Women have a much higher rate of being a victim of physical, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Believed largely in part to how women are portrayed in this world as: sexual objects, small, and weak vulnerable, sensitive, gentle, subordinate. Women are preyed on by men, what chance does women have to fight off abuse? Most commonly women are abused as a child, and in most cases goes unnoticed for years, if not until adulthood. In any other setting these women would be categorized a victim, yet are being placed in a system that isn't fit to help victims, only make more.

Women's rights ignored
Women in prisons have been given an unequal opportunity for rehabilitation. "Historically, women have been underrepresented at all levels of the criminal justice system. This under representation of women has resulted in a criminal justice system created by males for males which the diverse needs of women are forgotten and neglected" (Health Disparities and Incarcerated Women: A Population Ignored" Ronald L. Braithwaite, PhD, Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, and Kimberly R. J. Arriola, PhD, MPH (Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952) Women's prisons were not built with women's needs in mind, they were built for Men. Reports have shown women in prison routinely complain that their gynecological and routine exams, including required breast examinations are not given, and that basic medical attention of female inmates is often overlooked or ignored. (Health Disparities and Incarcerated Women: A Population Ignored Ronald L. Braithwaite, PhD, Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, and Kimberly R. J. Arriola, PhD, MPH) Women have very different needs then men, not only emotionally but also physically. Some of the problems women are faced with when they enter the system are due to a limited history of medical attention. The statistics show 80% of women in prison report incomes of less than $2,000 per year in the year before their arrest, and 92% report incomes under $10,000) Making it so many women, who enter into the prison system have had very little previous healthcare. Someone entering as former prostitutes have a higher chance of having STD's, HIV/AIDS and/or other diseases. It has been found that 70% of Women incarcerated suffer with mental health issues, (www.womeninprison.org) issues stemming most likely from a history of physical and/or mental abuse. These disorders need to be treated by a physician to fully recover. Instead women are sent to prison where they are open to additional abusive situations and neglect.

Behind the bars

"Amnesty International reports that in 2004, a total of 2,298 allegations of staff sexual misconduct against both male and female inmates were made, and more than half of these cases involved women as victims, a much higher percentage than the 10 percent that women comprise of the total prison population."

"In federal women's correctional facilities, studies shows 70% of guards are male and records show correctional officials have subjected female inmates to rape, other sexual assault, sexual extortion, and groping during body searches. Male correctional officials have unlimited access to women's privacy, they watch women undressing, in the shower or the toilet. Male correctional officials retaliate, often brutally, against female inmates who complain about sexual assault and harassment"(Amnesty USA. com)

What message does this send to women incarcerated when the justice system tolerates this behavior. (Powerless in prison: Sexual Abuse against Incarcerated Women: Nicole Summer, RH Reality Check on December 2007) Women guards should be the only people allowed in areas in the prison where privacy is required, better yet maybe only women guards should be allowed in women prison facilities. Because the message I get is "You belong to the system now, and you have no say in who sees your body and what is done with it" this most likely is the same message they received outside of jail, before incarceration, while being abused and raped. Then they are sent to jail and are made to feel violated and raped by the system. It also tells women "That they are not safe anywhere, a man has the right to hit you and abuse you" and get away with it. Even with in a system that was designed to protect. Do you lose your basic rights as a human being upon entering prison?

The majority of the cases where a women was sent to prison on violent charges, they were charged in "self defense" Women sent to prison because they killed/or attempted to kill the person who was beating them, or raping them. Women are being beat, abused and raped by prison guards, who are there to "serve and protect" Women are made to feel unsafe, and are placed back into the harmful situation they lost their lives , family and children and thrown into prison because of. Prison Guards have also been known to threaten to take away prisoners visitation with family or children in an effort to silence a female prisoner. In many cases, guards are encouraged to view a prisoner's chart, to see what they are "up against". In male prisons, I can see how it is an important decision to be prepared, but why would a male guard need to view files of a women who was a "non violent" offender? It has been noted that many times the Guard is obtaining information to be used against the prisoner, names of family members' addresses, personal past problems, another way guards rule with fear. Not all guards behave this way, but the statistics which including letters written by prisoners, suggests that it is a common behavior that has gone unnoticed, or ignored.

Mother's in Prison are still Mothers.
Out of the 149,000 women incarcerated through out the United States, 7o% is found to have at least one child under the age of 18 years old. (TIME magazine, Tammerlin Drummond/Miami 2000) 15% have infants younger than 6 weeks and between 5% and 10% of incarcerated women enter correctional facilities while pregnant. (Health Disparities and Incarcerated Women: A Population Ignored" Ronald L. Braithwaite, PhD,Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, and Kimberly R. J. Arriola, PhD, MPH (Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952) Being a mother incarcerated takes an emotional and physical toll, psychological with the trauma around issues of bonding, separation, and parenting. Many of these issues are never addressed in prison, and a mother may never get the counseling attention a she requires to cope and recover. Do Mother's in prison have enough resources to continue to take an active roll in their Childs life? Some prisons have programs for Mothers and their children, such as Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Wilsonville, OR. They offer Parenting and Family programs. Parenting classes, Girl scouts & Boy Scouts Behind Bars, all programs to help Mothers interact with their children and take a positive role in their lives, even if it is from behind bars. But many prisons do not participate in this type support/ rehab. Women are usually given sole custody over children. The system often sends the women to serve their time further away from home more often then it does for men/fathers, making it difficult for the caregivers of the children of the imprisoned mother to bring a child around to visit. There should be rehab facilities and/or centers for women placed in locations accessible to their family.

Work in prison
Some of the programs being offered to women today seem outdated, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon offers: laundry, sewing and knitting These programs were listed among the programs offered when the first female prison in Indiana opened in1873, though I agree it helps keep women's minds occupied in a positive way, I don't think it is helping them learn the necessary skills to join the working society. This facility does focuses on a wide range of rehabilitative services, mental rehabilitation. But isn't it time women receive better training for jobs they will be able to obtain upon leaving prison? College classes, Associates degrees? Training in jobs that can help them bring in an income seen as the majority of women/mothers incarcerated is raising their child in a single parent household. Another program Coffee Creek offers is one to obtain a GED (General Education Development or General Equivalency Degree.) program. Which upon receiving will be crucial in obtaining a job, but what if a prisoner would like to finish high school? A high school diploma is more detailed in terms of curriculum with focus on a much wider span and variety of knowledge than a GED certificate. The GED certificate program focuses primarily on the questions that will be on the exam. Having obtained my GED after attending high school for three years, I feel that I learned a lot less than if had stuck with Public school curriculum.

In conclusion, until we listen to the voices of the victims we will never truly understand why people do what they do, most times out of desperation, and we cannot learn the most effective way to help. It is an unfair assumption to think one system will work for everyone. Everyone is different and should not be punished for being different. There seems to be conflict in this society with "being wrong" it often associated with ignorance, this is not so. Being able to say a system does not work and it needs to be changed, is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength. There is so much inequality in this world, and all of the studies and research to prove it. Yet, those who implement the changes are not strong enough to admit the system is failing everyone, including their selves, and the longer inequality is accepted the more there will be, and we will keep taking giant steps backward. It is important to use our voice when others are too afraid to, or have had their mouths forced closed.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" Mahatma Gandhi


On line article: TIME Magazine, Tammerlin Drummond, Miami 2000

On line article: "Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Crime Future Directions for Feminist Criminology" Amanda Burgess-Proctor, Michigan State University, Sage Journals On-line

On line article: "Women In Prison" Drug Policy Alliance - Barbara Owen, Department of Criminology California State University Fresno

On line article: "Health Disparities and Incarcerated Women: A population Ignored" Ronald L Braithwaite, PhD, Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, and Kimberly R.J. Arriola, PhD, MPH.) Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952)

On line article: "Powerless in Prison: Sexual Abuse Against Incarcerated Women," Nicole Summer, RH Reality Check on December 2007

On Line article: "Counting the Drug War's Female Casualties" Phyllis Goldfarb, George Washington University Law School Goldfarb, Phyllis, (July 28, 2003). Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall 2002 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=429281

On line article: "Women in Prison: An Interview with Activist Tracy Huling, by, Sarabi, Bridgette. Summer 2001 issue of Justice Matters

On line article: www.womenandprison.org "Do I Have to Stand for This?" by Kimberly Burke , Riverside Unit, TX, 2002

On line article: womenandprison.org "Illegal Strip Searches at the Cook County Jail" by Tori Marlan

On line: DOC Operations Division: "Coffee Creek Correctional Facility"

On line: www.womenandprison.org

On line: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/

On line: www.womendoingtime

On line: Wikipedia.com

On line: Google.com

On line: www.amnestyinternational.org

On line: www.socialscienceresearchnetwork.com (SSRN)

Book: Anderson, M Taylor, H "Sociology in Everyday Life"

June 5, 2008

A Societal and Cultural Perspective: The Takers and the Leavers

An excellent example of paper 2 by Autumn Kniel - spring 2008

Through reading Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, the reader is introduced to two very different societies that live on Earth together, but not so harmoniously or cooperatively. These two societies are the Takers and the Leavers. The Takers can be seen as the people of "civilized" cultures and the Leavers as those of "primitive" cultures (Quinn, 39). In other words, the Takers are you and I and culture of Ishmael's pupil, while the Leavers are those people of all the other cultures besides our own lumped together (Quinn, 39). Also, according to Ishmael, a story is a scenario interrelating man, the world, and the gods, while culture can be seen as a people enacting a story (Quinn, 41). To enact a story is "to live so as to make the story a reality" (Quinn, 41). It is here where we dissect the stories that the Takers and the Leavers are enacting, as well as the effects of having the Takers and the Leavers co-inhabit our planet.

Through reading and understanding the above definitions, it becomes clear that the Leavers and the Takers must be enacting two very distinct stories, since their cultures are so different. The story being enacted by the Takers is one of greed and domination. This story concentrates on three main points: that man is the end of evolution, that man to believes that the world was made for him, and that the ultimate goal of man is to conquer the world (Quinn, 57-61). The enactment of the first of these points in the Takers story, that man is the pinnacle if evolution, is almost something that is assumed in the Taker culture. People here never speak about what species will replace man or what man will eventually further evolve into. These ideas are never even entertained because within this Taker culture, it is the assumption that man is the Supreme Being and everything else in the universe on the planet belongs to man (Quinn, 57). This is inherently what the Takers believe to be true, and this is almost never questioned.

The second aspect to the Takers story, that man believes that that Earth was created for him and belongs to him, can be seen through looking at the various ways in which this culture abuses and destroys the natural resources of our planet. From air pollution, mindless use of fresh water, careless population growth, and excess use of oil it is clear that the Takers believe that the world was created for them to use as they will. I believe that it is because of the fact that the Takers do not believe any species will follow them in the course of evolution, that they have and continue to use and abuse the Earth in order to continue working toward creating their own "paradise" (Quinn, 82).

The last piece of the story that the Takers are enacting is that man is working toward conquering the world as its ultimate goal. This aspect of the Takers story is meant to lead man to this paradise of a world in which he has everything: technology, commerce, agriculture, literacy, etc (Quinn, 80). Man's conquest of the world was meant to empower him and to make mastery of his planet. This is not however, what has indeed happened.

The effects of this story that the Takers have been enacting for many, many years are numerous. First, by the Takers believing man is the end all be all for evolution, they have created a situation in which there is no responsibility or reason to protect, nurture, and preserve our planet. What is happening currently, I believe as a result of this mentality, is a conscious destruction of the plant for the well-being and greed of man because it simply does not have any consequences to him and the rest of the Takers. If there is not anyone or anything to follow, then why not use up all of the natural resources so we can have huge cars and why not cut down all of the trees to build more houses to sustain the population explosion that is occurring? This population crisis is an additional example of a devastating effect on the second aspect of the Takers story, which reads that man believes that the world is his playground and was created for him. In thinking in this fashion, the Takers have no reason to halt the rapid population growth because it was all made for him to use at his will! Within this method of thinking, the Takers continue to cultivate more and more land, to expand urban sprawl, and to further push non-Taker societies away. This leads to the serious consequence of man's goal to conquer the world, which has and continues to involve its destruction and abuse, anything but beneficial. In this conquest of the Takers, our world is being used up and because of our greed and hunger for more, we are unable to stop or reverse the deterioration of Earth's resources and gifts.

About two or three million years before the Takers began enacting their story, a different cultural group, the Leavers, had been already living out their own story, that which centers on leaving their lives in the hands of the gods, and embracing a sense of belonging to the world (Quinn, 240). Leaver societies still exist in our world today, but number very few. This, however, does not discount the huge impact their story has had and continues to have on the wider world. This cultural story of the Leavers centers on peace and harmony with the land and surrounding people. This story encompasses taking what you need from the world and giving back to it in return; helping out your neighbors when they need it; truly living knowing that their lives are simply in the hands of the gods. Enacting this story has been very efficient and successful for over two million years and, for the very few Leaver cultures remaining, continues to work today.

Despite the fact that this story promotes order and helps to create the natural balance of the world, Takers would not dare to enact this story. In their eyes, this story is a miserable way to live, one full of sacrifice and the unknowns (Quinn, 224). Takers have chosen to live their lives as though they are responsible for themselves and in doing so, have removed the idea of the gods as in control of their destiny. Because of this, there has been a severe need of the Takers to feel as though they are in complete control over their lives and when this does not go as planned, there is often anxiety, depression, and a drastic sense of fear that sets in. As this occurs, the Leavers continue to live their simple lives and in doing so, work less, eat healthier, have more time for social interactions, and create an innate sense of community that is virtually unbreakable.

In thinking about challenges relating to the story of the Leavers, only one comes to mind: the Takers. For, it has been the Takers over many, many years that have tried hard to rid of the Leavers story in order to make their own more prosperous and rich. They have done so with one main goal in mind: to take over their land and cultivate it, for agriculture has been the Takers main goal for a countless number of years. In this process, the Takers have nearly eradicated the Leavers of the world, without much remorse or second thought. The reason for this can be found within the story that the Takers have been enacting for years; one full of greed and disregard for anyone of anything but themselves in order to have more and better of everything. The last pieces of land that the Takers have not been able to get their hands on still largely belong to the Leavers. This, I am afraid, may be the case for too much longer.

Through reading Ishmael, I have been awakened to two important ideals, two stories that have made me look a bit differently at the world and at the society to which I am a part of. The different cultural stories being enacted by both the Takers and the Leavers have been perfectly illustrated in my mind, and I must say that in most ways, I identify more with the Leavers story, although it is all but impossible for me to live my life here in America in this fashion. What I have done and will continue to do though, is to remember the simplicity in the cultural story of the Leavers, for it gives me hope and helps to keep me grounded in times when the hectic nature of the story I am enacting, along with the other Takers of the world, leaves me hopeless, defeated, and overwhelmed.

Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. United States of
America: Bantam Books, 1992