comments_image Comments

How Can We Stop the Epidemic of Killing Women and Children By Returning Soldiers?

No society that sends its men abroad for war can expect them to come home and be at peace, as returning Iraqi vets are proving in alarming numbers.

Continued from previous page


Striking about these "intimate homicides" is their lack of intimacy. They tend to be planned and carried out with the kind of ruthless calculation that would go into any military plan of attack. Most were designed to eliminate an inconveniently pregnant lover and an unwelcome child, or to inflict the ultimate lesson on a woman about to make good her escape from a man's control. In some of them, in good soldierly fashion, the man planning the killing was able to enlist the help of a buddy. On military websites you can read plenty of comments of comradely support for these homicidal men who so heroically "offed the bitches."

Give Peace a Chance

The battered women's movement once had a slogan: World peace begins at home. They thought peace could be learned by example in homes free of violence and then carried into the wider world. It was an idea first suggested in 1869 by the English political philosopher John Stuart Mill. He saw that "the subjection of women," as he called it, engendered in the home the habits of tyranny and violence which afflicted England's political life and corrupted its conduct abroad.

The idea seems almost quaint in competition with the brutal, dehumanizing effectiveness of two or three tours of duty in a pointless war and a little "mild" brain damage.

We had a respite for a while. For nearly a decade, starting in 1993, rates of domestic violence and wife murder went down by a few percentage points. Then in 2002, the vets started coming home.

No society that sends its men abroad to do violence can expect them to come home and be at peace. To let world peace begin at home, you have to stop making war. (Europe has largely done it.) Short of that, you have to take better care of your soldiers and the people they once knew how to love.

Ann Jones is a journalist and the author of a groundbreaking series of books on violence against women, including Next Time She'll Be Dead , on battering, and Women Who Kill , a contemporary classic to be reissued this fall by the Feminist Press, with a new introduction from which this post is adapted. She serves as a gender advisor to the UN.

See more stories tagged with: