Civilians as the victims of war

The ethics of war can be questioned on a variety of fronts.

Anti-war stances can stem from a variety of places: from a disagreement with its objectives to an avoidance of environmental destruction. However, the outcome of war often rests upon who has the most power - financially, materially, and militarily - as opposed to what benefits the people most. This, therefore, leads many to disagree with the pursuit of war in a questioning of the morality of the mass destruction and violence that it causes. 

Civilians, who often have little say in the decision to go to war, are the greatest victims... 

Especially within contemporary conflict, modern warfare sees loss of life amongst civilians more so than soldiers. Resulting from U.S. post 9/11 wars, 387,072 civilians have lost their life violently. Even in World War II, it is believed that 60-67% of deaths were that of civilians. The recent Rohingya conflict saw over 24,000 civilians killed and 18,000 raped.

Visual art can draw focus to the unethical outcomes impacting civilians...

Artwork can seek to unearth these victims and expose the injustice of war and its lead to moral and ethical imbalances. Frederic Belaubre’s drawings remind us of war victims through the visualisation of bomb shelters. His figurative images take audiences into the tight spaces where families hide from acts of war. Exploring minimalist rendering, Belaubre draws focus to what should remain the primary focus in war discussions: the civilian victims. 

 Frederic Belaubre, Bomb Shelter 9 (2022), Pencil on paper.

Artists situated in war can expose the harsh realities…

Nataliia Oliferovych’s colourful artwork is motivated by her personal experience of fleeing the war in Ukraine, her home. The activist artist creates artwork on identity with each artwork being tightly tied to a story and emotion. Referencing fauvism and expressionism, Oliferovych draws focus to civilians as the victims in emotive and communicative ways. Is The Penis Your Only Weapon? references the Russian soldiers who have raped Ukrainian civilians. Civilian trauma extends beyond being victims of injury and death, but of sexual assault, as rape is used as a weapon of war.

 Nataliia Oliferovych, Is The Penis Your Weapon?, Polyfoam, acrylic paint, children's paint, pen and pastel. 

It is imperative for societies and governments to draw focus to the harsh realities faced by civilians in the event of war. Doing so might provide greater protection for the vulnerable, while spreading caution to the higher powers within war decision-making.



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