While I hate to question the voices of the women interviewed by Ms.
Dominique Serrano, her report contains passages such as this:
"In Berlenitz, women told of soldiers separating the men from the others.
Soldiers wearing masks encircled the young boys and women. The young boys
had their throats slit one at a time, but only after their ears and
sometimes theirs noses had been cut off. The torturers sharpened their
knives in front of the women and terrorized children. They then cut open
the stomachs of many pregnant women and skewered the fetus on their
blades." (emphasis mine)
Are we to take the above without a grain of salt? I attach Ms. Serrano's
report here, so that listers may examine it for themselves. In my view, the
report is striking in its absence of any information (e.g. the number of
the women interviewed, the number of the women raped, medical reports that
corroborate the women's testimonies, etc.) other than Ms. Serrano's
"synthesis" of tales of rape, abduction, torture, etc.
While I do not doubt that rape and other forms of sexual abuse have been
used against women during the times of war (as well as 'peace') throughout
history, I think it is important for us to remember that tales of rape and
sexual torture have been also stuff of war propaganda and racist or
chauvinist sensationalism. Good examples include how "Indian captivity
narratives" were used to disseminate the racist images of Indian "savagery"
and how stories of black rapists were used to whip up lynch-mob hysteria.
Throughout the wars in and against Yugoslavia, the mass media and human
rights orgs have always concentrated on only one kind of story, as far as
rape is concerned: "Serbs are using rape as a tool of ethnic cleansing" and
variations thereof, mostly with little evidence. It's as though rape were
_only_ committed by Serbian men against non-Serbian women! It's as though
no Serbian women were ever raped! It's as though no man ever raped a woman
of his own putative ethnic group! Don't feminist theory and activism
militate against this 'ethnicization' of rape and erasure of sexism as the
cause of rape?
Rape has become a legally and internationally recognized _war crime_, only
in the sense that _losers alone_ can be accused of it. This, however,
doesn't look like a gain for women and feminism, though some feminists
probably disagree with me for saying so.