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?!
“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’)
STOP PREACHING IF YOU CANNOT DO THE FIXING!
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 resourcesuseless. 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:
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
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?