[NetBehaviour] Tomgram: Ann Jones, The War against Women Never Ends.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Feb 18 10:49:58 CET 2008

Tomgram: Ann Jones, The War against Women Never Ends

Today, Ann Jones, who, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, spent several 
years as a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan focusing on the lives 
of women and wrote a moving book, Kabul in Winter, about her experience, 
takes us to West Africa and into the chilling nightmare of women's lives 
in war-torn lands. This is the first of a series of reports she will be 
writing for Tomdispatch in the coming months. Tom

The War against Women
A Dispatch from the West African Front
By Ann Jones

Kailahun, Sierra Leone -- Greetings from a war zone that's not Iraq. And 
not Afghanistan either.

I'm checking in from West Africa, where I've been working with women in 
three neighboring countries, all recently torn apart by civil wars: 
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d'Ivoire. The Iraq debacle has 
monopolized attention and obscured these "lesser" wars -- now officially 
"over" -- but millions of West African women are struggling to recover. 
For them, the war isn't really over at all, not by a long shot. This is 
the war story that's never truly told. Let me explain.

Surely you remember these conflicts. Liberia's war came in three 
successive waves lasting 14 years altogether, from 1989 to 2003. Sierra 
Leone's war started in 1991 when guerillas of the Revolutionary United 
Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone, trained in Liberia, invaded their own 
country. The war drew many players and lasted until January 2002, a 
decade in all. In Côte d'Ivoire, a civil war started in 2002 when 
northern rebels attempted a coup to oust President Laurent Gbagbo, but 
by that time the international community had decided to act to prevent 
any further destabilization of the region. French, African, and later UN 
peacekeepers stepped in and a treaty was signed in 2003.

So, officially, these countries are no longer "war zones." Accords have 
been signed. Peacekeeping forces are on duty or close at hand. The UN 
and international aid agencies are assisting "recovery." Some arms have 
been surrendered; some refugees have returned from exile. Some men are 
making mud bricks and building huts to replace the spacious houses of 
embossed concrete and tile that once graced towns and villages 
throughout the region. Officially, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte 
d'Ivoire are now designated "post-conflict zones," but they are so 
fractured, so traumatized, and -- especially in the cases of Liberia and 
Sierra Leone -- so devastated and impoverished that they cannot be said 
to be securely at peace either. Sierra Leone has replaced Afghanistan as 
the poorest country on the planet and, like Afghanistan, it is a nation 
of widows.


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