Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Women at War I: South Ossetia

(First of a series attempting to shame XX factor bloggers into paying attention to war.)

Prior to the Russian intervention there were the refugees: people fleeing South Ossetia. It is a cliche of war: women and children flee, men fight. Here's one story from The Guardian:

Alisa Mamiyeva, 26, a teacher at the arts lyceum in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, said: "I came in the boot of a car. Georgian snipers were firing at us from the forest. I heard the bullets hitting the chassis.

"My brother stayed to fight. Our grandparents' home was turned to rubble. We don't know where they are. Nothing is left of their village. It was totally destroyed by rockets and tank fire."

One thing struck me in the Guardian story that seemed perhaps a little different from the cliches -- many of the women quoted in the stories are professionals. They have jobs: teacher, lawyer, hairdresser. To be sure, there are also images of elderly women peering into space , but much of the early reporting of the conflict involved women and children getting onto buses, leaving their careers as well as their husbands and homes, and fleeing into Russia.