Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rape & War in the Congo

Came across this story and it was too disgusting not to comment on.

Lisa F. Jackson debuts her new documentary, "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo" tonight on HBO. What immediately sets this film apart is the fact that Jackson actually goes to the Congo and interviews victims and rapists, soilders with a sick and twisted analysis of power:
"Did they want you to sleep with them?" Jackson inquires, her voice incisive, a bit on edge. A translator repeats her words in Swahili. Is it about control? Sex? Why violate a woman, leave her to bleed in her village, while her husband watches, tied to a tree? Why would 20 men line up and take turns, one after the other, raping a girl until she passes out and separates herself from a pain too evil to imagine?

Why insert a machete into a woman, leaving her organs so torn and dysfunctional that she flees her village and hides her shame and her stench in the bush, another victim of war?

"After we've been raped, our men don't want us anymore. We are considered half-human beings," a lonely woman confides to Jackson and her camera.

In another scene, the gray-sweatered rapist doesn't flinch at Jackson's question: "If she says no, I must take her by force. If she is strong, I'll call some of my friends to help me. All this is happening because of the war. We would live a normal life and treat women naturally if there was no war."

The war started in 1998 when Congolese rebels and Rwandan troops tried to oust the country's president, Laurent Kabila. But the fighting metastasized into a conflict over land, ethnicity and natural resources and lasted long after Kabila's 2001 assassination and well beyond a 2003 peace accord. Eastern Congo, the flashpoint of the conflict, degenerated into a state of near constant violence, with regular troops, rebels and regional militias routinely looting villages and routinely raping women and girls.

...How many such children will be born of rape? One cannot say. But the number of rapes, as told by the film's collection of rapists, is staggering.

"Well, those that I remember, I could number them to 18." It's green beret again, touting his rape tally.

Camouflage hat says he has raped seven women. Green hood says five. Red T-shirt admits to two. Black sunglasses: about 20.

Black skullcap says, like an accountant: "It's hard to keep record of the number of women that I've raped. The thing to keep in mind is the fact that we have stayed too long in the bush, and that induced us to rape. You know how things are in combat zones. We raped as we advance from village to village."

If ever there needed to be glaring evidence of how rape is used as a weapon of mass destruction, this is it.

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