Weapon of War

[Trigger warning for sexual violence on a mass scale.]

One of the most heinous expressions of a rape culture is the use of rape as a weapon of war—and, as has been previously discussed here, the prevalence and intensity of ongoing, endemic sexual violence against women in Congo has been described as the worst in the world. Hundreds of thousands of women have reportedly been raped in Congo, with sexual violence so widespread that Doctors Without Borders has said "that 75% of all the rape cases it deals with worldwide are in eastern Congo."

In August, a mass rape was reported in the town of Luvungi, during which hundreds of women were raped by rebels over the course of four days.

And now it has happened again: "Dozens of women were raped in a coordinated attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo on New Year's Day, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday."
The humanitarian agency said 33 women were raped in Fizi, South Kivu, in the eastern part of the war-torn country.

"Women had been restrained with ropes or beaten unconscious with the butt of a gun before being attacked, some in front of their children," said Annemarie Loof, an official with the agency, commonly known by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

..."MSF is extremely concerned about the current situation in and around Fizi," Loof said Thursday. "People are fleeing the area fearing further violent attacks."

The agency provided medical and psychosocial care for 5,600 rape victims in North and South Kivu in 2009, it said.
5,600 survivors of rape.

Once again, I will advocate donating to Doctors Without Borders, who are doing such good and necessary work in places where rape is devastating entire populations of women and children.

Over the past few days, there have been an alarming number of stories about birds falling out of the sky and fish dying in large numbers, and I am seeing references to these stories everywhere. And that's understandable; I don't mean to suggest it isn't, because I'm interested in those stories, too.

But women are being raped in mass numbers in Haiti and DR Congo, day after day after day after goddamned day, and that has somehow failed to capture the interest of the global community in the way dead birds and fish has.

Which troubles me.

To put it mildly.

I'm not suggesting it has to be an either-or situation; I believe humans are capable of holding multiple thoughts in their heads, of caring about multiple issues simultaneously. We are multitaskers, we humans. Built that way.

I'm just saying I would like the women of Haiti and DR Congo to get at least as much attention, fuck, even half the amount of alarm, that dead birds and fish are getting.

These women matter. Their lives matter. Their health and safety and right to live a life free from the constant threat of brutal rape as the daily business of war matter.

Contact the State Department. Contact your Senators. Contact your Representative. (If you're not in the US, please feel welcome to leave links for contacting MPs or other government officials in other countries in comments.) Make your voice heard. Tell them you are thinking about the women in Haiti and DR Congo.

Tell everyone you can that these women matter. Mattering is the only way they will ever be safe.

Our teaspoons have to be our weapon of war against rape.

[Previously on the DR Congo Rape Epidemic: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten.]

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