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War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War Paperback – August 2, 2011
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“Harrowing and important... What Jones brings to the fore here is sadly often overlooked in discussions of the world politic.” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Gripping... This searing exposé on war's remnants convincingly makes the case that gender inequality may be one of the greatest threats to peace.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“While decrying the continuing ‘post-conflict zone' of violence against women…[Jones reveals] their fortitude in the direst of circumstances...[and] provides glimpses of hard-won triumphs.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Ann Jones, writer and photographer, is the author of seven previous books, including War Is Not Over When It's Over, Kabul in Winter, Women Who Kill, and Next Time She'll Be Dead. Since 9/11, Jones has worked with women in conflict and post-conflict zones, principally Afghanistan, and reported on their concerns. An authority on violence against women, she has served as a gender adviser to the United Nations. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Nation.
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Thank you for bringing the realities of women and girl's experiences in a war zone to the public eye.
Received as described and earlier then expected. Would purchase again.
Jones consulted with Heidi Lehmann, the head of the UN Gender-Based Violence (GBV) technical unit, who said she wanted to know about the women's hopes and problems and "what international assistance might actually be of help....
Jones was not quite alone when she set out on her year-long journey. She carried with her a goodly supply of guts, empathy, creativity, and a willing ear. She also took with her a few digital cameras. The book begins with her experience in Cote D'Ivoire, one of several African countries she visited. In villages in each country she visited she asked a small group of women volunteers to document their lives in photographs. Then they met to discuss their photos. Few of the women had ever seen a camera before, and most had never spoken publicly. But soon they were organizing the "First-Ever All-women's Photography Exhibition and Celebration" and they invited local "bigwigs" to view it. Each women showed two of her photographs that documented a problem. Next she described the action needed to bring about change.
The project was designed to help women develop skills in "observation, analysis, articulation" and the "confidence needed to advocate for themselves." Those goals were achieved, yet Jones had some misgivings. "... some opened up," she says. "But the stories were so awful, I wondered if the world could bear to hear them."
I forced myself to "hear" those stories in the pages that follow. Photos in the book record some of the hard-to-see events in the women's lives. One shows a woman sprawled on the ground, and the man who apparently knocked her there is headed toward her again. It is almost a duplicate of a poster against domestic violence I saw in Kabul in 2005, and for me it illustrated the universality of women's plight.
Among the horrors that Jones does tell readers about are "more than ten thousand rape victims, (needing) the surgical repair of thousands of fistulae, most caused by brutal multiple rapes, some with the insertion of other foreign objects. The oldest patient was eighty-three, the youngest nine months." Some never reached a hospital until about a year after the rape. A hospital admitted six or seven women a day, "when the consequences, STDs, HIV and fistula became harder to bear than the shame." Sometimes they've come too late.
But the book is not all bad news. After the "First-Ever" photo exhibit, Jones collected the cameras to take to the next village. "They didn't need them any more," she says. "They could look around, spot problems and speak up....The impact varied...but the changes in the way communities looked at women, and women looked at themselves, were real and often dramatic." In one village, after a month of photographing and discussing the images, "the women had somehow learned to generalize. They had begun to talk about "women," and not just that one individual in the photo. They had begun to talk in terms of fairness and justice." The women learned to photograph what was important, and to speak up for what they wanted. In at least one case they challenged tradition by looking their chief straight in the eye.
It was surely painful for Jones to listen to the women's stories, and it is hard to read about them. It will be even more challenging for the U.N., village elders, and people throughout the world to create serious, permanent, fundamental reforms. But the process begins with people in all cultures understanding the pervasiveness and depth of the damage done. It will take all of us who care about women and children to support what the women have started. I can't think of a better way to begin than by reading this book.
She relates what happened in Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Burmese refuges in Thailand, and Iraqi refugees in parts of the middle east. In some instances the project seemed to be successful in lessening the violence that happens to women; but the main effect of reading this book will be to show that with peace, many times violence still comes home to women and children. They are forgotten after war. I do wish there would have been more reference that this happens no matter where you are in the world; although the horrors done to women in some parts of the world, no matter how young they are, being brutally assaulted is almost too horrid to read. For too long women and children have been forgotten concerning these dreadful attacks, no matter what the country or war.
From the first page of the introduction you are drawn in, repulsed, saddened and horrified. It is not an easy subject, but it is reality for all too many. It is a fact that in wars, civilians die in higher numbers than soldiers, but they are also the first victims and too often remain silent because of fear and shame. Men seem to stop attacking each other and then pick the easy targets. The point is driven home that the shame of this violence continues because of the thought that they must have done something to deserve it. Even at that, Ann Jones says there are stories she left out because they are too hard to take. It is hard to imagine after reading of the mutilations and horrors that many women, even at unbelievably young ages, live with everyday - yet they are made to feel they are the evil ones, if they live through it.
There are some pictures in the reading, but there really should have been more.
There were some changes brought about, some so simple as a refugee committee realizing that, yes it might be important to have separate bathing facilities for men and women. This is a tough subject and makes for some difficult reading but it is a book and subject that more should be aware of.