“The word ‘rape’ or ‘sexual violence’ cannot fully translate the horror that hundreds of thousands of women are living,” according to Dr. Denis Mukwege, Director of the Panzi General Referral Hospital Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Mukwege made the statement during his recent testimony before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law Commitee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate.
Rape, as he describes what has happened to the thousands of victims he has seen over the last ten years, is an act of terrorism, not personal violation. As Dr. Mukwege points out, the act is done in a methodical manner by an armed group, usually in public in front of parents, husbands, children or neighbors, and followed by mutilations and other corporal torture. In many cases, it turns into sexual slavery that continues for months. Dr. Mukwege’s testimony is not for the faint of heart, but it should be read by anyone doubting that rape has become the weapon of choice for armies and gangs throughout the eastern provinces of the DRC.
The effects on the individual of this type of rape are horrendous. Physically, genitals are destroyed by knives, guns, or other objects while infections of all sorts, including HIV, are rampant. On the psychological level, the act humiliates the woman, destroying her self worth and interest in living. These effects are compounded at the social level when women are rejected by their husbands. Families are destroyed, women and children turned into refugees with no resources.
The effects on society are, if anything, worse. As Dr. Mukwege testified:
In normal warfare, the men die at the front, but often the women reproduce children with some sick old men still alive. But the contrary is not true. When the uterus is destroyed, there is no possibility of reproducing. In the case of our species, when one destroys the genital apparatus, the men become useless, because they cannot reproduce children with sick women or women whose genital apparatus are destroyed.
10 healthy men can produce 1000 children if there are 1000 women. But 10 healthy women with 1000 healthy men can only produce 10 children under the same conditions. This analysis shows that man has been able to invent a horrible strategy of war which produces the same effect as a normal war (that is assassination, loss of property, occupation of land, internal displacements, and refugees with all the miseries that go with that) but worse yet, has an effect on the health of those concerned, with indelible marks that they will carry everywhere during their life span.
This situation is so much more serious because it does not concern ten thousand women, but rather several hundred thousand women.
It is believed that King Leopold’s brutal regime killed, directly or indirectly, half the people of the Congo. Unless the crime of warfare by rape is stopped, the long-term impact of the current conflicts could be worse.
For more thoughts on the state of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere, read all my contributions to “Bloggers Unite for Human Rights”
Rape – A Weapon Of Terror
Toys of Destruction
Human Rights Criminal On The Loose
Human Rights – Major Theme In Heart of Diamonds
Children of the Congo – Soldiers Still
A Century of Horror – Red Room
Eager To Learn
God Is Love
Is America A Human Rights Weakling?
To see what it’s all about, read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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