Happy Mother’s Day: Lift Up Your Voices, Mothers Everywhere!

This Mother’s Day, Forget the French Toast
by Nicole Sotelo

“Arise, then, women of this day!” goes the Mother’s Day proclamation.

But this is not your wake-up call to french toast and flowers. Instead,
this phrase was the rallying cry for the first “Mother’s Day of Peace” back
in 1870—back before the day became laden with Hallmark and guilt.

Julia Ward Howe, the creator of Mother’s Day, pleaded with women to speak out
against war, not only for the sake of their sons, but for the sons of mothers
across the globe. Today, mothers must not only seek peace for their sons, but
for themselves.

Studies are showing that warfare brings significantly increased incidents of
rape and domestic violence. Soldiers are taught violence in war and
that violence is then turned upon innocent civilians in the country of
conflict, fellow soldiers during wartime, or it returns home in the form of
spousal and child abuse. Think the war is taking place thousands of miles away?
Think again. Wartime violence is happening in living rooms across the country.

Americans may remember the four women murdered by their military husbands
within a six-week period at Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina near
the beginning of the Afghanistan invasion. While this caught the media’s eye for
a brief time, the violence at the hands of military personnel continues to rise.

A 2003 study financed by the Department of Defense found that nearly
one-third of female veterans who sought health care through the Veterans
Affairs reported that during their military service they experienced rape or
attempted rape. Another set of figures from 2004 and 2005 showed a 40%
increase in the number of sexual assaults reported by female soldiers—which
may mean women feel safer in reporting the attacks or that the numbers are
on the rise.

“60 Minutes” did research in the 1990s that found that domestic violence was
five times more common in U.S. military families than civilian families. And
that was during “peace time.” During war, the numbers become far more
gruesome. During the Rwandan genocide, UNICEF estimates 150,000 women
were raped in the 100 days of conflict. Today, the remnants of that violence
have ventured into the Congo and 27,000 sexual assaults were reported there
by the United Nations — in just one year, in just one province.

So, arise, then, women of this day! Forget the french toast. Forget the
flowers. Arise and speak out against war. Spend this Mother’s Day writing
letters, calling congress, or finding another way to help stop the war. It
is just a few hours of your life. And you might just end up saving one.

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