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Rape as a Weapon of War – DR Congo

March 23, 2009

CONGO FIGHTINGIn his reflections in Media between Warmongers and Peacemakers, Cees Hamelink notes:

“What is most troublesome in today’s rise of ethnic conflicts, is that most of these conflicts are characterized by the exercise of gross violence against civil populations. Contrary to classical warfare between armies, violence now increasingly targets civilians of the fighting parties.  At the dramatic core of ethnic conflicts is the grand scale perpetration of crimes against humanity.”

In the DR Congo, innocent women and children are on the receiving end of these crimes against humanity.  Children are regularly kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers, and women are raped; the weapon of war to subjugate the citizen population.

Hundred of thousands of women have been raped, tortured and humiliated in DR Congo, and this crime against humanity continues daily, hourly and by the minute.  It can’t be committed merely on a whim, it requires motivation and beliefs.

Where do these motivations come from? There must be an organised distribution of such information, but I struggle to find any relevant information on this.

How can one human being be persuaded into committing such acts? Hamelink suggests it is the de-humanisation of one group, so do we see the mass de-humanisation of women of the DR Congo? Surely, but I cannot tell where this stems from.

Thankfully I am beginning to see the media picking up on the mass rapes against the women of DR Congo, and NGOs now investing more effort into this issue.  A good example is Condition-Critical by MSF, which gives voice to these women and attempts to humanise their very individual, very personal, and very bewildering stories.

The media may be slowly picking up on this, and I hope the full horrors which the women are subjected to are reported accurately.  The stories and the photographs will be upsetting, but the Western world must see such images, in my opinion.  The horrors should not be ignored or forgotten.

“What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone, that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled, we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.”

Elie Wiesel, 1986

More on this another time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. zebrambizi permalink
    March 24, 2009 6:47 am

    Nice blog, well done on keeping a tragic and forgotten conflict alive on your blog.

    Superb.

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