Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rape of the Congolese Women – A Tragedy of Epic Proportions

I was horrified at a report on CNN today talking about the systematic rape and mutilation of the women and girls of the Congo, and really horrified is way too weak a word. This is appalling. After reading it I almost wished I hadn’t, but I know the world only gets better if we learn about these things, and try to right them.  But WOW! This is just too horrible to even comprehend.

I know very little about the Congo, though I suspect that’s in the process of changing. Apparently the country is about the size of all of Western Europe and has been engaged in a bloody war that has already taken 3.9 million lives.  A peace accord was signed two years ago, but the fighting has not really stopped. And now the soldiers who were involved in the conflict are attacking women to destroy their ability to reproduce.

In one small province, already 4,000 rape and mutilation cases have been reported, and who knows how many others have not been reported. The stories are so heartbreaking I can’t bear to reprint them, involving girls as young as 8 to women throughout child-rearing ages. Men or boys found in the same household as these women are either killed or raped and mutilated themselves.

Aid money for the victims will run out in June, and little if anything is being done to stop the violence. The country is expecting their first democratic election in August, but most expect that their current president, Joseph Kabila, will remain in power, leaving serious questions as to whether anything will be done to protect these innocent victims.

And what are we doing?  What is the world’s only remaining superpower doing to protect these women?  Nothing!

As a superpower, I believe we have an obligation to stand up for those who are too weak to defend themselves.  I am a huge fan of Harry S. Truman, and visited the Truman Library last year. But Truman did not bomb the tracks leading to the concentration camps during World War II, and millions of lives would have been spared if he had. This is one example of the US shirking their duties as a superpower.  

Our present inaction in Congo is another example of our shirking our duties.  What makes these women any less worthy of our protection than the women of the Middle East, whom we have pointed to time and again as a major reason why we take such an active role in the region? Why are these women less valuable than the ethnic Albanians in Serbia, who merited our protection in 1999 in the Kosovo War?

Oddly enough, I don’t think we can go in and protect the Congolese women today, because our military is spread so thin.  But perhaps if we worried more about protecting human rights than about protecting our oil interests, the world would be a better and safer place to live in.

At the least, I hope President Bush realizes that this tragedy occurred on his watch, and that in this case he has failed to fulfill his obligation as the leader of the only superpower left in the world.  And meanwhile, I’ll pray for the women in Congo, and hope the sun rises on a better tomorrow for these victims of such terrible crimes.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:16 PM / | |