French Women Say “Non à la guerre”

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A framework for female objection to military service was one of the fruits of the “Assises de l'objection”, a three-day meeting on CO issues organised by the Le Cun du Larzac community in southern France.

The conference and its workshops examined all — or nearly all — aspects of objection, from the pressures on scientists to collaborate with the military establishment, to the militarisation of education, to the role of churches on objection, to war tax resistance. The workshop on women and militarism, which was open to both sexes, addressed a long-standing problem — the potential mobilisation of women in times of war.

A 1959 law provides for the “requisition of female personnel may apply under the same conditions, and subject to the same penalties, as male personnel”. As an indication of the state's intentions to militarise the whole of French society, this law has provoked considerable attention since its promulgation. At the Larzac meeting, a “statut d'objectrice” — a demand for conscientious objector status for women — was agreed and made available for women to sign.

Promulgation du Statut d'objectrice: promulgation of the status of female objection

According to the ordinance of 1959 women are mobilised for the general organisation of defence on the same basis as men.
Defence is a permanent state which foresees and allows in all circumstances and at all times the mobilisation of military and civilians, men and women, under the same authority and with the same obligations in case of threat; according to internal or external tensions, one or several sectors of the country's activities can be put directly under the direction and responsibility of the military.

As antimilitarist women in struggle for the recognition of our rights, we denounce:

  • the army as a means of perpetuating the dominance of women by men, for the macho ideology, the prestige of the uniform, the cult of violence, the reproduction of the patriarchal model by authority, by hierarchy.
  • the proliferation, around military bases around the world, of prostitution, rape and sexual abuse among the population the military is supposed to “protect”.

Due to the 1959 ordinance, and other encouragements that they should consider careers in the military, women cannot consider themselves outside the military system.

We refuse to participate in the repression of social movements.

We have an important role to play in the sectors subject to military requisition – that is, health, education, communication, transport, and public service, in order to block the process of militarisation and refuse to collaborate with it.

For all these reasons, we declare ourselves to be conscientious objectors (objectrices de conscience) to any such requisition, refusing to subject ourselves to the service of defence.

Peace News, August 1991. Abridged from report in the Belgian MIR-IRG magazine L'Objecteur, July 1991.

Published in: Women and Conscientious Objection - An Anthology