29 May 2005

"Not Women Anymore..."

It's a bright, sunny day in Amsterdam - actually we're at three in a row, which is almost like winning the lottery in clammy Holland - and even while working I have greatly enjoyed myself. However, my sometimes morose nature insists that I blog about a terrible thing. I mean, it's great to enjoy the sun, but never forget who is suffering in the background of your tranquility.

My light mood was shattered after reading an article in Ms. Magazine about Congo rape survivors. It's horrible, it's graphic, and you need to read it. It is necessary to be disgusted beyond belief and to feel a fury building inside of you that practically nothing is being done to help these female (and sometimes male) victims.

Rape is being used as a weapon. Not a novel idea, but here it is being employed on a massive scale. “They rape a woman, five or six of them at a time — but that is not enough. Then they shoot a gun into her vagina,” says Dr. Mukwege. “In all my years here, I never saw anything like it. … [T]o see so many raped, that shocks me, but what shocks me more is the way they are raped.”

But it doesn't end there. If this happened in the U.S., Western Europe, etc., the women would have a good chance of receiving medical and emotional counseling, and support from their loved ones. But in these cultural circumstances, virginity is a virtue above all other, and a man whose wife has been raped is disgraced. And forget about legal ramifications for the monsters who commit these atrocities. There's hardly a working system in place.

There are only 12,000 UN peacekeeping soldiers in this region - an area the size of Western Europe. Not that they're helping anyway – some are actually contributing to the gross sexual mistreatment of women. They pay women ($2) for sex, or they barter: sell me your body and maybe you'll get some food.

Read the article. It's excellent, heartbreaking, historically informative, and appalling. Ruin your sunny Memorial Day weekend just for a few minutes. And wonder why your country is doing so little to help these women – and this entire culture - destroyed by rape and shame.

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