Date: Wed, 14 Oct 98 10:41:01 CDT
From: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Subject: USA: U.S. Troops Abuse Women in Asia, Coalition Charges
/** headlines: 158.0 **/
** Topic: USA: U.S. Troops Abuse Women in Asia, Coalition Charges **
** Written 11:41 AM Oct 13, 1998 by mmason in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 4:17 PM Oct 12, 1998 by firstname.lastname@example.org in ips.english */
/* ---------- "RIGHTS-WOMEN: Women Demand End to M" ---------- */
Women Demand End to Military Violence
By Danielle Knight, IPS
9 October 1998
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (IPS) - An international coalition of women's
organisations, based in Asia and the United States, is demanding
changes in military agreements they say allows violence against
More than 50 women activists from Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines
and the United States held meetings in Washington this week with
Congress and government officials to protest against murder, rape
and sexual exploitation committed by U.S. military personnel in
They want significant changes in international military policy
agreements which, they say, has fostered a "pattern of
violence against women" as the accords protect military personnel
from being held accountable for crimes committed in another
"Acts of violence committed by U.S. military personnel against
local community women and children,...happen far to often to be
overlooked or be accepted as random occurrences," says Margo
Okazawa-Rey, one of the organizers of the East Asia/U.S. Women's
Network Against U.S. Militarism.
"While agreements between the United States and host
governments ensure legal protection for U.S. bases and military
personnel, they do not provide security for local communities or
the physical environment," says Okazawa-Rey, who is also a
a professor of social work at San Francisco State University.
Such treaties include the Status of Forces Agreements with
Japan and Korea and the proposed Visiting Forces Agreement between
the United States and the Philippines.
A delegation of women from the Japense island of Okinawa -
scene of ones of the bloodiest battles of World War II - is
calling for more than just policy changes. Charging that military
bases have disturbed life on their island for more than half a
century, the Okinawa Women's Peace Caravan is calling for the
dismantling of 42 U.S. military bases.
"Fifty-three years is long enough. We have really suffered,"
says Suzuyo Takazato, director of the Japan-based Okinawan Women
Act Against Military Violence. "'Prostitution and rape are the
military system's outlets for pent up aggression and methods of
maintaining control and discipline - the target being local
The rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S.
servicemen in 1995 sparked the women and uncover a wider trend of
sexual violence by the military on the island.
"More marines and navy sailors were tried for rapes, child
molestation's and other sexual assaults at bases in Japan than at
at any other military site in the world," she says.
Computer records of Navy and Marine Corps cases since 1988 show
bases in Japan with a total of 41,008 personnel, held 169 courts
martial for sexual assaults, she says. This was 66 percent more
than the second location, San Diego, California, which had 102
cases out of 93,792 personnel.
A similar pattern of abuse has been recorded by women's
organisations in South Korea.
A Korean Congressional report estimated that more than 30,000
crimes were committed by U.S. military personnel against Korean
civilians between 1967 and 1987 which included murder, brutal
rapes and sexual abuse, according to Yu Jin Jeong, director of the
Seoul-based National Campaign to Eradicate Crime by U.S. Troops in
She says that U.S. troops are protected by Status of Forces
Agreement which provides them with immunity from prosecution for
offenses which they may commit while deployed in the country.
Therefore, she says, charges rarely come under the jurisdiction of
local courts while military authorities tend to dismiss them.
"The US Army displays a certain arrogance in claiming that it
came here to protect Korea and yet disrespects Korean citizens,"
says Yu Jin Jeong. Like organisations in Okinawa, National
Campaign were formed after the brutal murder and rape of a woman
by military personnel stationed in Korea in 1992.
Groups in the Philippines, say the U.S. military presence in
the country has caused an "epidemic" of prostitution. Near
military bases, prostitution still continues in the Philippines
even though U.S. bases were withdrawn in 1992.
Women's organisations warn that the recently signed Visiting
Forces Agreement, which allows for the resumption of joint
military exercises and U.S. warship visits to the Philippines,
will only make the problem of prostitution worse.
"We believe the ratification of the agreement will exacerbate
the ongoing sexual exploitation of our people, particularly poor
women and children who are vulnerable to prostitution," says Aida
Santos, director of the Quezon City, Philippines-based Women's
Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organisation.
"The presence of the US forces in the country, by whatever
name and by whatever agreement, will only aggravate the problem of
prostitution and trafficking in women and children," she says.
Prostitution near former or present U.S. military
installation throughout Asia has had a very serious effect of
women's health, including increases in HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, according to Santos.
Children fathered by U.S. military personnel are often
abandoned and discriminated against by the local community, say
A Defense Department spokesman, Major Bryan Salas, says the
Pentagon is taking the women group's concerns "very seriously."
"American troops are not in the region for the convenience of
the United States," he says. "They are in the region because
both the United States and Japanese governments believe they are
an essential element in preserving the security and stability of
the Asian Pacific region."
But for whom is the U.S. military presence in Asia preserving
such security?," asks Suzuyo Takazato. Echoing other activists'
concerns that concept of security needs to be "de- militarized,"
she says that "we must ask: what is security, what is safety."
"It's not just Asia...the military harms plenty of people in
this county," says Okazawa-Rey. "Social programs in health and
education - programs which especially benefit women and children -
have been cut while the military budget remains sacrosanct."
Young people in the United States, especially those who are
minorities and poor, are recruited into the military in the
absence of job training and educational opportunities, she says.
"For many young African Americans there are three options: the
military, the drug trade or incarceration - what kind of choice it
that," asks Okazawa-Rey.
[c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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