War-time rape: Bosnia (PHOTTO VIA bosniagenocide.wordpress.com) / Congolese rape victim (PHOTO VIA marcusbleasdale.com)

I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear. – American feminist Susan Brownmiller

I have been meaning to write about this for a long time, but my emotions and the timing (exams and so forth) have not permitted me to put words onto paper, or rather, words onto laptop. Why this title? Simply put;  political correctness is not an effective tool when one chooses to vent out frustration.

Last week the American Journal of Public Health  published  a new study about the ‘chronic underreporting’ of rapes  taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here are the lovely figures:

  • 1,100 women are raped every day
  • More than 400,000 women and girls raped aged between 15 to 49 (2006-2007)
  • 26 times more than the 15,000 women believed to be raped by the UN (2006-2007)

My initial reaction was *yawn, yawn, yawn* (my high school English teacher would have been terribly disappointed by my poor choice of words here). Another ‘study’? How many more of these studies, re-researches, re-re-researches do we need to carry out in order to establish and confirm that the rapes are occurring and have been occurring for over a decade? And even more so, how many more rapes need to be added into the rape-basket before the counting stops and the action begins?

History Tells Me…

Scholars, activists and feminists have attempted to understand the complex relationship between sexual violence and war. War-time rape has historically been a weapon of choice in many conflicts – heck; it is cheaper than bullets and often has a longer lasting psychological effect on the destroyed communities many years after the conflict has seized. There are many examples that can be mentioned; the gang rapes and enslavery which ‘shamed the world’ in Darfur and Seirra Leonne, the South Vietnamese and US armies rapes of Vietnamese women during the Vietnam war, the German women raped by the Soviets during WWII, the Japanese army  forcing  Korean and Chinese women  into sexual slavery during World War II and so forth.

Today, in modern day boys gone wild massacres warfare the armies and rebel groups of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo are continuing the trend by systematically raping and sodomising women. Yet it bemuses me that even with the advanced technology which previous conflicts did not benefit from; and the various studies available, that the  international community is still, well; *yawns* [fill in appropriate adjective here] O_O.  The Lord only knows how many women are being subjected to sexual violence in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Israel not to mention those who suffered silently in Afghanistan and Iraq – anybody counting yet?!

UNICEF wrote:

“From (recent) conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Peru to Rwanda, girls and women have been singled out for rape, imprisonment, torture and execution. Rape, identified by psychologists as the most intrusive of traumatic events, has been documented in many armed conflicts including those in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Haiti, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda.” 

(You will notice from above how the US, Japan and Vietnam are not mentioned , what a crime shame; and I mean this literally! oh and this I say even though UNICEF is talking ‘recent’)


Eve Ensler, founder of the organisation V-day says she is OVER  ‘the news BEING news‘ . When I read her randition, I felt elated. Finally somebody who gets it! (click on link)

  • PASS THE OBAMA LAW, what are you waiting for?
  • Stop telling us the same information with revised versions
  • Stop the UN/ MONUSCO ‘peace keeping mission’ in DRC.  Clearly they are useless at their job (see here) – Waste of resources since 1999, more troops there than in any other country. Send trained fighters – SOLDIERS! The ‘peacekeepers’ are just monitoring the natural resources useless. Full stop.
  • Stop spending thousands of pounds and dollars on endless ‘studies’, when rehabilitation and after-care centers are  needed. Workshops and training centers for police officers and community leaders should be initialized so they may learn ways of dealing with rape victims and punishment of offenders. Job creation and enterprise are the long-term sustainable solutions which will benefit the victims and prevent social exclusion.
  • Stop tarnishing the DRC  with constant usage of labels and words of associations like ‘worst place for a woman’ but instead make the public understand that war and rape are correlated and expose the multinational companies who are contributing to the conflict. Moreover, the DRC is the size of Western Europe, still in conflict, still in development, still without adequate electricity, still without adequate water supply, still, still still… Yes, I said Western Europe! Not Italy, France, England etc; combined them all to get the picture!
  • Put international pressures on Rwanda and Burundi to GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!!! If the war stops, there will be less rapes. Intervene as you did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya even if the ongoing conflict is more beneficial to your multinational corporations , thus GDP  – just for one minute be selfless. If you can get Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussain, Muammar Gaddafi then Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni ain’t got nothing on you!! SMALL FISHES IN THE POND!!………. !!
  • Stop making these same women re-tell and re-live their horrific storries for the benefits of your cam-recorders and various media outlets and your pathetic ‘studies’. How many times would you be capable of telling the same tale of having been shot and mutilated in the vagina? Of having sticks inserted into your vagina then gang raped continuously for several days or weeks?- or your grand-mother, aunt, mother or six years old sister?
  • Stop visiting the Panzi hospital in Bukavu like a museum, it is not the city’s must-see attraction. STOP PATRONISING. SHOW THEM THE MONEY!

Not All Is Doom And Gloom….I hope. I wish. I want.

I shall remain positive and hope that the efforts of the many organisations,  activists, politicians, feminists and normal people like yourself and myself will do/continue  to raise awareness and demand a stop to the atrocities and sexual violence taking place in the DRC ( and anywhere else for that matter).

The famous Congolese singer/ songwriter Koffi Olomide wrote the following  lyrics in one of his songs:

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi.

It translates : “Lies come up in the elevator; however the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually”. I think that it sums up the trials and tribulations faced by the Congolese population perfectly.

I do hope that The Statute of Rome, on which the International Criminal Court is based, will be used effectivelly to bring to trial the nations and/or people who have not complied to it, as using rape and other forms of sexual violence during conflict is, it states; committing ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity’.

That is all. Semi-demure-rant over.

In Need Of Support?

If you have ever been subjected to sexual abuse or violence and need to speak to someone, check the following websites for advice, assistance and support:

  1. Rape Crisis
  2. R.E.A.C.H – (Rape Examination Advice Counselling Help)

I am not an expert  by any means. Remember that Google is your friend.

Find out more:

Cassandra Clifford, “Rape as a Weapon of War and it’s Effects on the Victims and Society” http://ts-si.org/files/BMJCliffordPaper.pdf

Jenny Morgan, “Crime not shame: challenging the ideology of rape”  http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jenny-morgan/crime-not-shame-challenging-ideology-of-rape

Sexual violence as a weapon of war,” UNICEF, at: http://www.unicef.org/

“Sudan, Darfur, Rape as a weapon of war: Sexual violence and its consequences” Amensty Inetrnational: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR54/076/2004/en/f66115ea-d5b4-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/afr540762004en.pdf                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Your Comments..

I would be interested to know how you feel about the whole ‘rape conversation’, especially when used as a weapon of war (gender based violence – GBV).Does the media help in any way and if so how? Do you think that the various studies (after 13 prolonged years of knowing this) are beneficial?



  1. MumBi · · Reply

    Im over being over. This sadly is maybe the one thing.. the one crime, reality, fact that the world over..i get sick to my stomache about-EVERYTIME. Why? Because It SO easy to do something about it. 2005 i participated in the V-monologues in Nairobi, Kenya- and out of a cast of 64- turns out atleast 1 in 4 of us had been raped or sexually assualted. We were all professionals-high-flying per se -1 in 4. The figure is higher when you het talking about sexual abuse,- groppings, harrassment at work or at home etc 3 in 4. Im over being over because- we are grown women- we have an apparent functioning government- millions are spent on particular ministries- yet everyday EVERYDAY little girls will be raped in Kenya. The figures on sodomisation of boys is also staggering- all this showing a lack of something.

    Why is it-in this day and age of so much advancement – Why is it that 1 government our Government even- refuses to do something? Our own laws dont even protect young children- it is often the case in the rural areas that one “caught” in the act can buy his freedom from authorities or even negotiate a more permanent arrangement with the victims parents. In this day and age you will be hard pressed in Kenya to find a police station in one of this danger zones with the rapekit or form to report the assault- let alone find someone in other public hospitals or police stations-sympathetic to your plight and the urgency should u have fallen victim.

    Of course the situation is alot deeper- the mix of humiliation, cultural mores, conservative society and disenfranchised members will continually sustain RAPE in our countries as the Norm- and negate it to something just like inflation, insecurity, traffic jam-a fact of Life.

    All this till a country says NO! till the goverment says NO! till Parliament collude with Police, give it just credence, acknowledge that this is now a “woman thing” it is bigger than an economy when you cant even protect half your population- and authorise and enforce their commitment by meting out swift and just punishment- that is non-negotiable for all perpetrators regardless of their status in Society. A punishment that is public and publicised for all to see- and know that us- as a country, as a people as a community “we dont play that!” The rape of one of us is the rape of all of us- so one should pay heavily-for this crime against humanity.

    1. Thank you for commenting. I was beginning to think that maybe this rant I decided to write was a little too much for people to comment, maybe it hit a cord and made people numb – that is how I feel at times. It is better not to know so then we do not have to deal with it – the ‘sweep-it-under-the-carpet-culture’ springs to mind. You are so right; rape needs to be taken more seriously by nations the world over and sentencing of offenders should reflect this. There is little thought given to the long term effects on the victims who are alienated, oppressed and excluded from their communities for denouncing it. I read a news article today (UK METRO newspaper) about the (UK) Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke being embroiled in a deep row over plans to offer rapists and other criminals halved sentences for early guilty pleas! And another article stating that here a child was sexually abused every 20 mins.

      984 rapists jailed last year of which 134 were given four years or less. A total of 13 rapists were sentenced to life in prison, with one in five (180) jailed indefinitely for public protection.
      The average sentence was just over eight years (criminal justice statistics showed). Rape as a weapon of war is slightly different in context but nonetheless; I fully agree with you on all levels – Governments need to say NO!

  2. Let’s not forget about the rape of African women by white men during slavery through Jim Crow in America. This too had been overlooked when reading about sexual assualt. Those men who freely took advantage of these women were given the go ahead because then American (and sometime now) viewed those people as second-class citizens. Many women of African descent in America have felt slighted because they feel that they are viewed as oversexed women who couldn’t possibly been raped. Of course, all women experience this but unfortunately the stereotypes of the oversexed, exploited woman does take its toll.

  3. Thank you Candice for commenting and continuing the discourse. It is important to educate ourselves. Having said that, I have no idea who Jim Crow is but I will most certainly Google him and read up on that. That’s why I love conversing with others; you learn so much.

  4. Brigitte Kabangue · · Reply

    I’m really loving this Mad…makes a good read, keep it up it can only get better and better!


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