The blogosphere is a good place to set down thoughts on subjects dredged from the complex realities of the times we live in, subjects that often don’t figure in our public discourse. I believe it is in that spirit that the ICRC is inaugurating this blog and here’s wishing that it proves to be a living wallpaper on which the many human impacts of conflict can be expressed. For an institution that has as its foundational principle International Humanitarian Law which aims to prevent and alleviate human suffering in war, the communication of ideas cannot but be central.

One of the little-told stories of our times is the multiple and malignant impact of conflict on the lives of women. These faceless, voiceless women poised on the edge of the abyss are not visible. Their cries for help are invariably drowned out by gunfire; their loved ones who are killed in such situations are perceived as collateral damage; their struggles to keep their families going in the most painful of circumstances hardly figure in public consciousness.

It was in this context that Women’s Feature Service (WFS) — a media institution mandated to highlight gender concerns of which I am director and editor-in-chief — decided to publish features on women in situations of conflict. We were fortunate to have the ICRC come on board to support this initiative and together we forged a great partnership of mutual sharing and learning.

What followed was the documenting of experiences from India that have hardly figured in mainstream media. While suffering, sexual exploitation and trauma emerged clearly as the dominant themes in these features, obvious too was the amazing resilience and courage of women survivors caught in the crossfire. In 2012, WFS was able to come out with a compilation of these features in the form of a book, ‘Across the Crossfire — Women and Conflict in India’, which was published by the feminist imprint, Women Unlimited.

We are now delighted to learn that the ICRC will be putting parts of the book out on its blog and can only hope that it will lead to the sharing of more stories of this kind in the days ahead, and that they, in turn, will help the world realize the crucial and continuing importance of defending the principles of International Humanitarian Law.

Pamela Philipose
Director and editor-in-chief, Women’s Feature Service

Please click here for excerpts: ‘Across the Crossfire — Women and Conflict in India’