|WR1003 War and Reconstuction in the Balkans|
Week 7 Gender, Nationalism and War
5. Women as reproducers of children to strengthen the nation and especially sons who will fight, men as warriorsThis aspect of nationalist ideology and practice involves state interference in biological reproduction. The needs of the nation (as defined by nationalist and religious leaders) are more important than the needs or desires of women as individuals.
Nationalist states which are in conflict with other national groups/states wants to reproduce members of their own national group and stop the other, enemy group from reproducing.
Attempts to increase the size of certain national groups generally take the form of rewarding women who have large numbers of children and trying to restrict the rights of women to control their own fertility.
SerbiaSerbian nationalists in the late 1980s and 1990s used the symbolic medieval figure of Yugovich. She was a long suffering mother of 9 who offered her children to die in the defence of the fatherland. The nationalists called on Serbian women to emulate her and to have more children.
In the mid 1980s, demographers asserted that the birth rate in central and eastern Serbia, as well as in Vojvodina, was dropping at an alarming rate, while in Kosovo it was rising.
Serb nationalists argued that this was result of cultural backwardness of patriarchal Albanian men and contrasted downtrodden Albanian women with autonomous Serb women who worked outside the family and had choices. However, they also indicated that this autonomy had gone too far.
The Resolution on the Renewal of the Population of January 1990, as well as the May 1990 amendments, suggested pro-natality for Serbia and Vojvodina and anti-natality for Kosovo. This double policy was aimed at spreading nationalist hatred, oppressing and controlling women and dividing them on an ethnic basis. Feminists in Belgrade spoke out against it.
February 1990, Ivan Knatjer, a physician, proposed the imposition of taxes on unmarried or divorced men and women over the age of thirty. He defined them as 'unfit persons' and argued that they should pay an additional 10% of their incomes in tax.
The Serbian Constitution of April 1992 eliminated Article 191 of the Yugoslav constitution which guaranteed abortion as a right
In 1992 "The Warning" was issued by the Socialist Party of Serbia, Serbian Orthodox Church, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Serbian Medical Association & State Bureau of Statistics calling for a State Council for Population Dynamics.
A few months later, the Serbian Parliament removed abortion from list of medical services covered by insurance.
International sanctions against Serbia have prevented import of contraceptives. The diaphragm & sponge are not available, IUDs are used without proper advice and many men refuse to use condoms. Withdrawal is the predominant form of birth control.
In August 1992, Maja Gojkovic, vice-president of right wing nationalist Serbian Radical party, blamed Serbian men for Serbian women's reluctance to have children.
In early 1993, the Serbian Orthodox Church called for the banning of abortion. Women's groups protested on the streets of Belgrade and Bishop Kacavenda called them enemies of the Serbian people.
Bracewell also tells us that in March 1993 the Orthodox Bishop of Tuzla & Zvornik called for abortion to be banned for the following reasons
Demographer Dr. Stojan Adasevic said in April 1993 'A women must bear herself a replacement, and a man must go to war when the state summons him.'
According to Ugresic, D. (1998) The Culture of Lies London, Phoenix House, p. 122, a Muslim spiritual leader said
CroatiaThe 1990 Croatian Constitution said that marriage and family are 'natural and moral basis of society'. This makes the individual rights of women secondary & limited.
From May 1990 Croatian government stressed the demographic problem. The RC Church supported restrictions on abortion.
Tudjman, president of Croatia said 'The fetus is a Croat too.'
However, there were protests when one hospital tried to stop carrying out abortions and the decision was overturned.
Tudjman also said that women who pursued careers were 'female exhibitionists' and a major danger to the future of Croatia.
SloveniaThe 1991 Draft Constitution of Slovenia restricted abortion rights and claimed motherhood to be the essence of women's identity as reproducers of the nation. There was a lot of opposition to this and it was not included in the 1992 constitution.
'So even while many women endorsed nationalist views, they remained unwilling to sacrifice their autonomy in reproductive decisions to the nationalist cause.'
1. Introduction / 2. Context / 3. Chronology / 4. Women as Symbols / 5. Women as Reproducers / 6. Women as Keepers of the Home / 7. Limited Autonomy / 8. Women in Armed Groups / 9. Women Civilians / 10. Women's Bodies as Territory / 11. Militarization of Society / 12. Reading
Page created by Penny Welch March 2003
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