Conscription refers to the mandatory enlistment in a country’s military. The earliest report of conscription is in the 27th century BCE and it continues to be utilized today. The debate about its relevance resumed in the past month, as Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree forcing 300,000 citizens into active military service in attempts to bolster Russia’s forces in Ukraine. Failure to comply to the order would result in legal penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Immediately following this mandate, widespread protests in Russia commenced, demanding Putin to cut back on conscription. These protests are clearly indicative of the deep-rooted resentment that exists against the harmful system. World leaders may have gotten away with it in the past, but in today’s modern and educated society, conscription is an infringement of someone’s rights.
Men are forced to abandon their personal lives and risk their safety. Conscription takes away people’s basic human rights by forcing them to carry out violent acts against their will in the name of their country.
Russia has begun enlisting citizens with no prior military experience as well as new fathers. How is it morally acceptable to order men—who may not be suitable for military service—to risk their lives?
It is also immoral to force fathers to leave their partners and children, knowing they may not make it home from the war. The situation is even more dire if the fathers are the sole breadwinners, as their families would lose their source of income.
Conscription tears families apart, yet we still allow it to happen.
It is also challenging for men to reintegrate into society after military service. Making the transition from being on the battlefield to working a desk job is extremely difficult, as there are many negative lifelong psychological implications that come from being a soldier. Many of the men who survive war may return with permanent disabilities, which may hinder them from living normal lives.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemns the conscription of Russian men, declaring (in Russian), “Why should their husbands, brothers, sons die in this war? For a war that one man wants. For a war against our people on our land. [Putin] does not send his children to war.”
It is clear to me that conscription denies citizens their basic right to freedom. It is completely unfair for men to be forcefully separated from their families and risk their lives for a cause they may not believe in. Unfortunately, this is the case for many Russian men. The cost of patriotism should never be the violation of free will and possible death.
Staff Writer (Volume 49) — Angelina Jaya Siew is currently in her first year at UTM, seeking to specialize in Criminology, Law and Society and minor in French. After completing her secondary education in Trinidad and recently moving to Canada, she started writing for The Medium as a way to to highlight important global issues and encourage debate on controversial topics. When Angelina is not writing or studying, she is reading the latest mystery novel, travelling to different countries, or getting her almond milk vanilla latte at Starbucks.