NEW YORK: As AF3IRM NY’s 2012 Summer School of Women’s Activism (SSOWA) entered its third week, facilitators Olivia Canlas and Kimberly Sarabia led the class into a walk-through of the different levels of militarism in the world today. Linda Tigani of Cop Watch joined AF3IRM to further underscore the link between militarism and the policing of communities of color.
On exhibit during this session was the first quilt done by Filipina “comfort women” – victims of military sexual slavery during World War II. Some 200,000 Korean women and thousands of women in other parts of Asia, as well as Dutch women in Indonesia, were used in military brothels for Japan’s imperial army; their experience and fight for recognition informed the decision of the International Criminal Court to accept wartime sexualized violence and rape as war crimes.
In breaking down the impact of militarism on women’s daily lives, Ms. Canlas and Ms. Sarabia noted how militarized ways of dealing with conflict were often transferred to “civilian” situations. The rise in domestic violence in the homes of war veterans was one of the clear indications of how militarized training did not include knowledge of how to turn off the responses demanded by wartime conditions. The two also cited the impact of war on women soldiers, from sexual violence offered by their own colleagues to severe post traumatic stress syndrome upon return to civilian life. “Women,” said Ms. Canlas, “just have a different way to handling the after-effects of militarization.”
The presentation also highlighted the continuing militarization of US relations with the world – a projection and transference of the military conquest of native lands and parts of Mexico. With the US intervening militarily in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, Ms. Canlas pointed out that most likely, participants of the SSOWA were part of the repercussions of those incursions, as local populations were displaced and dispossessed.
The topic hit home when Mayor Bloomberg’s quote was repeated in class, to the effect that the New York Police Department was the 7th largest army in the world.
The last session on Saturday, August 11, will be on Transnational Feminism and building the infrastructure for 4th Wave of Feminism. The day is also graduation day for SSOWA participants, who will receive certificates of completion from AF3IRM.