Letter: Implications of rapes in Bosnia

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Sir: Verification that the rape of women and children is being used by Serbian state forces as an instrument of war in Bosnia ('Serbs raped 20,000 as a 'weapon of war' ', 6 January) constitutes an international crisis for women - not only Muslim women victims of 'ethnic cleansing' but all women. The fact that Serbian women have also been raped only underlines this.

We are witnessing the logic of male domination, male violence and nationalism taken to its horrible extreme - the collapse of culture itself. It has to be stopped. No force has the authority to stop this but women themselves organised internationally. Once more we are struggling to assert control over our bodies.

Virginia Woolf's words 'As a woman I have no country' have never rung more truly. A refusal by women everywhere to recognise any state/territorial claims backed by male violence is the necessary step to averting an escalation towards world war. The undersigned do not believe that further male violence to combat male violence can possibly lead to progress in the region. For this reason we oppose Western military intervention.

An emergency network of women aiming to act in practical solidarity with Muslim women in Bosnia is being set up jointly by a number of women's organisations. One course of action to be proposed is the withdrawal of workplace, domestic and sexual services on International Women's Day (8 March) in solidarity with women victims of male sex crimes in the Balkans. A provisional March 8 Women's Strike Committee has been set up for this purpose.

Yours faithfully,

LEONORA LLOYD, National Abortion Campaign; CAROLINE AUSTEN, Women Against War in the Gulf; CAMILLA POWER, Women's Peace Vigil, Whitehall; SUE SPILLING, Palestine Solidarity Campaign Women's Network; SIAN PHILLIPS, Women's Aid to Former Yugoslavia; SHIRLEY NELSON, National Women's Network for International Solidarity

London, SW11

6 January