Russian mothers’ committee reminds of the importance of never giving up

October 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers was a group forged in war time, started by 300 women who began campaigning to bring sons home from the army to finish their studies.

In peace time, the organisation has only grown in support, being awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize  in 1996 and gaining international recognition. Its scope has grown and its name has changed to become the Union of the Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers, and it works now as a civil society group to monitor mandatory military service.

The female organisation describes itself as “maternal” rather than a “women’s” group, an interesting terminology – it has deliberately tried to distance itself from feminist groups and campaign along the parental lines. Yet the fact that they are “mothers” and not “parents” is what has drawn them international attention. While trying not to be a “women’s group” they are by definition playing on their role as women – placing themselves as the peacemakers .

An archived feature from news organisation TOL published again this week outlines some of the amazing achievements of this organisation in improving conditions for soldiers in Russia through the years. This year for the first time parents will be allowed to accompany their sons throughout the military recruitment process

Read this article. These women are so inspiring and this article is definitely worth reading to remind us what people, ordinary people, can achieve in the face of oppression.

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Chechnyan men told to take “charge” of their women

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

A fascinating and concerning account from young Chechnyan women about their being forced to wear the headscarf.  The article, written by Tanya Lokshina, of Human Rights Watch, suggests that the state is turning a blind eye to attacks on women not wearing the headcarf.

Chechnya has been in a state of almost constant war for at least the last fifteen years, and as a shaky peace continues  in the territory, it is only right that citizens, men and women, have earned the right to express themselves. The ritual humiliation and assualt of women who don’t cover their hair, even if dressed otherwise “modestly” will only drive the country back into tumult. The latest Amnesty International report on the country concluded that Chechnya was being ” ruled without law, being run into further devastating destabilization.” It has one of the youngest demographics in the former Soviet states, with an average age of 22 years old. There is plenty of new blood in the country that can shed misogynistic and oppressive ideas of the past. Until this is done the country will be balancing on a knife edge.

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