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Gun Control: Does the UN Protect Women's Rights?

In a new article on ChronWatch, Howard Nemerov recounts some of the atrocities of sexual abuse perpetrated by UN "peacekeepers" against women. He also reports how some women in Liberia have joined rebel groups in order to obtain firearms to protect themselves from sexaul assault.

Anderson (mail) (www):
You probably already know this, but the feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman (whose "The Yellow Wallpaper" is increasingly inescapable reading in undergrad) always carried a revolver with her on her lecture tours.

When criticized by a gentleman acquaintance, who said she ought to rely upon the natural defenders of her sex, she replied that it was precisely her natural defenders against whom she was protecting herself.
9.26.2006 4:32pm
Commenterlein (mail):
I am sure your activism would have more impact if you found supporting articles from webpages which aren't outlets battling the "Bush hatred of the MSM" (from the first article I clicked on).

Closer to the point of your post, Nemerov's article cites Kosovo as an example for his thesis and writes "Women and girls as young as 11 are being sold into sexual slavery in Kosovo and international peacekeepers are not only failing to stop it, they are actively fueling this despicable trade by themselves paying for sex from trafficked women." All of which is true, but having been to Kosovo three times in the last ten years, I can assure you the place is flooded with handguns, with every family seemingly having at least one, usually military grade. Doesn't seem to do much against trafficking, does it?

Finally, I am wondering whether you only worry about the sexual abuse prepetrated by UN peacekeepers (and I agree that there is plenty of reason to worry about it) or also about similar behavior by US troops abroad? Angeles City anyone?
9.26.2006 4:35pm
Mongoose388:
I can't imagine anything like this happening under the ever watchful,Kofi Annan. (cue the scarcastic sneer)
9.26.2006 4:44pm
Russ (mail):
Commenterlein, could you please cite mass examples of US troops involved in rapes where anyone went unprosecuted.

Yes, there is the abberation, but it's not commonplace. In fact, the reason such atrocities by US soldiers make the news is b/c they are so rare.

A lot of UN peacekeepers, on the other hand, seem well versed in this and are almost never prosecuted for such conduct. Coincidentally, when was the last time that a major news outlet talked about such indiscretions?
9.26.2006 5:16pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Russ,

The majority of the cases cited in the article involve sex with trafficked women and prostitution of minors, not rape. And US troops are involved in lots of the former, all over the world.

Then you ask "Coincidentally, when was the last time that a major news outlet talked about such indiscretions?"

The WaPo and the NY Times have written plenty of articles about these cases, as has the Christian Science Monitor. You may have noticed that the Nemerov article does exactly zero original reporting and sources everything he says back to MSM and Amnesty International reports. Wanna bet that a quick Lexis Nexis search would unearth WaPO and NyTimes articles from the last 12 months?
9.26.2006 5:48pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Commenterlein (mail):

I am sure your activism would have more impact if you found supporting articles from webpages which aren't outlets battling the "Bush hatred of the MSM" (from the first article I clicked on).


Perhaps Bush loathing in the MSM would be more accurate? Are you seriously disputing that the President is not loved in the MSM? And what does this have to do with the subject matter anyway?
9.26.2006 7:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I can assure you the place is flooded with handguns, with every family seemingly having at least one, usually military grade.

What's a "military grade" handgun? Is that a special version of a civilian handgun and would not normally be available for purchase? Do you have an example, and how it would differ from the civilian version?
9.26.2006 9:06pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Limited burst / cont. fire fully automatic.
9.26.2006 9:59pm
Amber (www):
The majority of the cases cited in the article involve sex with trafficked women and prostitution of minors, not rape.
Sex with a prostituted minor is not rape? Please, tell me more.
9.26.2006 10:25pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Amber,

Morally it certainly is. In any case, my point was that many US troops abroad are engaged in bad behavior as well, and if you want to call it rape I won't disagree with you. Russ's comment above suggests that he would.
9.26.2006 11:27pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
… Limited burst / cont. fire fully automatic.

Sounds like you are describing a "machine pistol," like the Micro-Uzi or the Glock 18. The Glock 18 certainly qualifies as a "handgun," but in the automatic mode this kind of gun is very difficult to control because of its light weight and lack of grips for use with both hands. It's not all that useful without special training, and I would think these families would be much better off with a conventional semi-automatic handgun.
9.26.2006 11:42pm
Waldensian (mail):

Limited burst / cont. fire fully automatic.

Based upon this answer, I strongly suspect you have no idea what you are talking about. But I could be wrong. Please describe the "limited burst / cont. fire fully automatic" handguns that were usually in the possession of virtually every family.
9.27.2006 2:10am
Enoch:
Wow, I expected a lot more posts from the "guns cannot protect you" crowd by now.
9.27.2006 9:34am
Kevin P. (mail):

Limited burst / cont. fire fully automatic.

I second Waldensian's comment above. Commenterlein, are you an incarnation of Jade Gold? "Limited burst" is an odd term to use. There do exist fully automatic handguns but they are quite rare - because they are hard to control and use effectively.

Did you meet some Kosovo families and did they actually let you handle and fire their fully automatic handguns?

Or did you hear this second hand from someone else?
9.27.2006 9:55am
SeaLawyer:

There do exist fully automatic handguns but they are quite rare - because they are hard to control and use effectively.


Not to mention that military grade would be a wrong term for them as the military doesn't use them.
9.27.2006 11:34am
Commenterlein (mail):
Folks,

You are pathetic. I was commenting on a bad post by David Kopel on sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, and all you guys know in response is to get hung up on my mistaken use of "hand gun" in my first comment. Anyone with half a brain would have immediately figured out what I meant to say, and anyone with any knowledge of the Balkans knows exactly what kind of "limited burst / cont fire" weapons everyone has. You may feel really smug about playing dumb, but it's not a pretty sight.
9.27.2006 12:11pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"Anyone with half a brain would have immediately figured out what I meant to say" :)
9.27.2006 1:13pm
Russ (mail):
The majority of the cases cited in the article involve sex with trafficked women and prostitution of minors, not rape. And US troops are involved in lots of the former, all over the world."

As a US soldier who has "been all over the world," I must have missed this. Perhaps you could provide links to show me exactly what I missed.
9.27.2006 1:25pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
As a US soldier who has "been all over the world," I must have missed this. Perhaps you could provide links to show me exactly what I missed.

I think only one of the trafficked women could really do that.
9.27.2006 1:36pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Russ,

It's quite an achievement for a US soldier who has been all over the world to have missed the brothels close to any large US base abroad, and the underage and / or trafficked prostitutes in these brothels. In any case, it should take you about 30 seconds to dig up the relevant information on the internet. If you don't know how to start your search, you may want to look at Angeles City during the 1980s, as I suggested in my comment above.
9.27.2006 1:53pm
SeaLawyer:

you may want to look at Angeles City during the 1980s,


Is that someplace you have been or just heard about?
9.27.2006 2:43pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Commenterlein wrote:

...and all you guys know in response is to get hung up on my mistaken use of "hand gun" in my first comment. Anyone with half a brain would have immediately figured out what I meant to say, and anyone with any knowledge of the Balkans knows exactly what kind of "limited burst / cont fire" weapons everyone has...


So if the limited burst / continuous fire weapons were not handguns, then what were they? Shotguns?

You can't blame people for getting hung up on basic facts. Clear that up first and then we can talk about the rest.
9.27.2006 7:36pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
It's quite an achievement for a US soldier who has been all over the world to have missed the brothels close to any large US base abroad, and the underage and / or trafficked prostitutes in these brothels. In any case, it should take you about 30 seconds to dig up the relevant information on the internet.

In war, brothels are a traditional accessory, going back at least five centuries. 16th century armies transported theirs with them (as did the Foreign Legion more recently), today we prefer to employ local fornicatoria.

I recall reading of one fellow who claimed he had the most unusual award of the Purple Heart. He was in a London establishment when a V-bomb blew up and peppered his posterior with broken window glass. London under missile attack was classed as a combat zone, so he was astonished to find he got a purple heart out of it.

I can't see the point of comparison between rape and a voluntary business relationship that keeps the troops happy and the local economy humming.
9.27.2006 10:18pm
Commenterlein (mail):
Dave,

You missed the underage and / or trafficked part. Otherwise I am all for voluntary business relationships.

C.
9.27.2006 10:49pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
I greatly enjoy this blog; finally something on which I am reasonably qualified to comment.
Concerning the US military: There was certainly lots of prostitution outside US military bases in Asia 25 years ago (my brother spent two tours in the PI and I spent 4 years in Korea). Our experiences were that the women were rarely underage. The young soldiers doing most of the patronage wanted women with curves--more like Western woman. In fact, there were bars in Korea in which all the women had had surgery to give them more Western (rounder) eyes; other bars where all of them had bleached their hair blonde. Additionally, since many of the soldiers were lonely, they wanted someone they could talk to--i.e. an English speaker. And at that time the number of poor underage girls who could speak English was (and perhaps still is) very small. So, anecdotally, I would say the patronization of underage (minus the occasional 17 year old) prostitutes was small. And the trafficking was done by them or their families due to poverty--no middle class girls. Of course, 25 years ago it was also okay to smoke on airplanes. Times change. How did they changed on this particular issue?

United States: The Role of Military Forces in the Growth of the Commercial Sex Industry
A major step towards the establishment of a zero-tolerance policy with respect to solicitation of prostitution by U.S. military personnel was taken on 14 October 2005, when U.S. President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13387, which amends the Manual for Courts-Martial to specifically enumerate "patronizing a prostitute" as a violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). U.S. military personnel will have committed an offense if they "compelled, induced, enticed, or procured [a] person to engage in an act of sexual intercourse in exchange for monetary or other compensation." The act must also be "wrongful" and be "to the prejudice of good order and discipline" of the armed forces or "bring discredit upon" them. A violation is punishable by "dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year."

In June 2003, Equality Now issued Women's Action 23.1 advocating the establishment and enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy on the solicitation of prostitution to U.S. military personnel, noting the link recognized by the U.S. Government between sex trafficking and the demand for prostitution. Equality Now cited the participation of U.S. military forces stationed in South Korea in the commercial sex industry as a case study of what is happening around the world. According to a Fox TV undercover report, American Courtesy Patrol Officers, members of the United States military, facilitated access by military personnel to numerous bars where trafficked women from the Philippines, Russia and elsewhere, were being sold for prostitution to United States servicemen. Courtesy Patrol Officers knew that women in these establishments had been trafficked and they were familiar with the process by which club owners obtained these women and kept them to sell for commercial sex.

At the request of thirteen Members of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Defense initiated a global assessment of U.S. military activities that promote and facilitate sex trafficking. The assessment was conducted in two phases, first in South Korea and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. In South Korea, Courtesy Patrols who engaged in off-installation policing were reported to be "overly familiar" and friendly with patrons and employees of off-installation bars and clubs, rather than behaving as officials on duty. The Department of Defense interpreted such behavior to denote "official imprimatur to activities in the clubs," at the same time finding that "law enforcement personnel might find nothing to report if a service member paid a 'bar-fine' assessed against a woman and left the club with her for an evening." The report on Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo found that, "Because there is no military standard that directly addresses patronization of prostitutes and other activities associated with human trafficking, criminal prosecution of these activities under military law is rendered more difficult. We believe that correcting these weaknesses is consistent with the 'abolitionist approach to trafficking in persons' or zero-tolerance policy with respect to U.S. government employees and contractor personnel stationed abroad who engage in trafficking in persons set forth in the 2003 National Security Presidential Directive 22, which further states, 'the United States Government opposes prostitution and any related activities'."

In January 2004, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum reaffirming the zero-tolerance policy with respect to trafficking. The memorandum states that the Department of Defense "opposes prostitution and any related activities that may contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons as inherently harmful and dehumanizing."
9.28.2006 6:06am
libertarian soldier (mail):
Since my comment was so long, I broke it into two.
Concerning the original posting:
I have experience in 5 UNPKO--MINURCA, MONUC, UNAMSIL, UNMEE and MINUCI. The same problem existed in each. You are taking primarily young, promiscuous male bachelors (male because they are mainly combat units, bachelors by definition--geo or otherwise) and placing them in areas where there is a priori no national law enforcement organ to protect locals from predatory activity. They come almost exclusively from 3rd world countries (West Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh) or ex-2nd world countries such as Ukraine, which means many grew up in cultures where women could be abused or exploited, or regarded as less valuable than men, or all of the above. They have cash and goods in war devastated areas often lacking in both. And finally, they all have guns to procure what they can't/won't pay for.
With all that stacked against the UN, IMO its only chance to stop this would be a true zero tolerance program with enough CIVPOL/Gendarmes to police the soldiers' conduct. However, the UN would risk losing troop contributions for the PKOs by doing so, and thus usually refrains.
As far as needing to join a rebel group to get a gun, I never saw that need in any country--they were available everywhere.
9.28.2006 6:23am
Commenterlein (mail):
LS,

Thank you for your very informative comment.

C.
9.28.2006 12:05pm