As I was browsing through the CNN website, there was a very interesting headline that popped up “Why the eastern DR Congo is considered the ‘rape capital of the world’ ” As I was reading through it, I started to imagine how the citizens of DR Congo live.
The issue of rape in the DR Congo has risen tremendously. The country had faced many wars in previous years concerning the transitional form of government. This was known as Africa’s greatest world war. The war had a political as well as an economic side. From 2001 until 2003, Congo had undergone a major war, were it had involved 9 African nations and affected more than 50 million Congolese. The war was fought for the country’s vast mineral wealth and also after it had gained the independence of 1960. Most of the deaths from the war was due to starvation or disease. Today, women in Congo expect to be raped by gangs of men.
According to U.N. Special Representative Margot Wallstrom who had been working in the region for 10 years had seen a tragic developments this small society was facing.
Reports record that 48 women are raped every hour. The place is pulsating with the heat and energy of a population of people fighting to survive just one more day. But the violence here is as intense as this intoxicating, heady mix of Africa at its best and worst.
A week hearing terrifying stories of torture and rape. Multiple rapes. Violent, brutal rape. Rape with sticks and guns, even bayonets.
Women told me of their daily choice — to stay at home and face starvation. Or, go out to the fields for food and be raped. Most women chose the latter. It had become the norm.
The war continued until 2003, when a peace treaty was signed. Officially, the fighting came to an end, but it didn’t stop. Nor did the rape.
Rape is used as a weapon of war were it had become a systematic and integrated part of the rebels forces lives in the DR Congo. Today, woman expect to be raped by gang members three or four times and sometimes its groups of soldiers or gangs made up of 10, 20 or more men.
Many had conceived children and the girl children, some just babies only a few months old, were being raped as well. Rape has now become generational.
Young girls at the age of 13- 15 years old had conceived children by militia men and were often times rejected. Fiona Lloyd-Davies, a documentary filmmaker, had interviewed Masika Katsuva who was one of the victims who has been raped by the militia and rejected by her husband’s family. She had created a community where women are not regularly being attacked and provides care for the psychological, practical and medical issues. In the DR Congo, she has her own field where
Masika has become a mother figure to the women and their children — the results of rape — and as they plant, tend, harvest and finally sell their crops they begin to heal together.
Masika tries to dream of a better future, but she’s also realistic. She wants her women to be able to stop doing manual labor in the fields and learn skills like sewing. But for that to happen, she believes, the fighting and the rape must stop.
As a woman, I believe that these victims of rape should be provided with lots of care and acceptance and should also be forgiven because rape is considered a crime by these militia men. These women who live in poor countries such as the Congo are facing rape as an everyday target who are trying to survive at least another day can be very challenging. Although, living in New York can sometimes be a safe place there are still places were rape occurs, but it might be safe enough to say that women do not except to be raped everyday by militia men. These men use rape towards women as a sexual object which destroys a persons life and change the value and meaning of the word “sex.”
Do you think a crime like this in today’s society should continue torturing these innocent women? And should they ban rape as a weapon of war?
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