Rape – A Weapon of Terror

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights“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

To do your part, see these sixteen ways to make a difference.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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20 Responses to Rape – A Weapon of Terror

  1. earthlingorgeous says:

    Rape is one of the worst human rights violation of all, it not only violates but disrespects. Good points you’ve raised here.

  2. Eve says:

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I think I left a reply somewhere else on your blog by accident..

    I agree whole heartedly that rape is a systematic terror methodology. The camps in Eastern Europe were just as horrific as any in Africa if press reports were accurate.

    PS-I’m a fan without having read your book on the Congo yet. I love any stories about the African continent and will be getting it off Amazon. Best last book I read was a memoir about growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe by Alexandra Fuller- “Lets Dont Go to the Dogs Tonight”.

  3. Dave Donelson says:

    Thanks for your comment, eve. Rape is not a new weapon in humankind’s incessant war against itself, as you point out.

    And thanks for your interest in Heart of Diamonds. I, too, am a big fan of Alexandra Fuller.

  4. Tricia says:

    It is literally unfathomable that this is the year 2008 and atrocities like these are still being perpetrated on a daily basis. Something has to be done. When I read of the horrors going on in so many third world countries, I mostly wonder what will happen to the children witnessing all of this horror. What kind of world will this be when they grow up having been witness to such crimes, torture, and abuse? Thank you so much for bringing much needed attention to this issue. You have moved me to learn more. Thank you.

  5. Jamaican Dawta says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your comments.

    I’ve always viewed rape as a personal violation, never realising that it can also be an act of terrorism, as your article highlights so lucidly. Thanks for educating me. As a woman, knowing that so many of my sisters are being dehumanised in this way, I am heartbroken. What can I do to help, however small it may be?

  6. Jamaican Dawta says:

    Oh, I’m sorry. I missed the link at the bottom about the ways in which one can make a difference.

  7. bingskee says:

    rape is a horrible act of violation. those who consume themselves with these acts are Godless.

    it is really a puzzle to me why those who rape take joy in such acts. how can they bear seeing women suffer and be humiliated?

  8. Sabina says:

    What an amazing post! Thank you for writing in-depth on this crisis. I will look at the links you provided as well.

    I loved the idea of bloggers uniting on the subject matter of “human rights” and am glad to have found your blog via you finding mine.

  9. Beth Fehlbaum, Author says:

    Rape by itself is destructive. Rape as a tool for conquering a class or group of people is unbelievably inhumane.
    Sexual abuse in all forms destroys innocence and trust. Recovery from it is a walk through hell, and that is with support and loving people surrounding the victim. I cannot imagine what it must be like to endure what these women are put through as they struggle to survive their daily lives.

    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
    Chapter 1 is online!

  10. Peter says:

    That testimony is horrifying. Is some action resulting from it? Can we affect it somehow?

    Africa Book: The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver. Not hugely guilt trip inducing, but a great book.



  11. Dave Donelson says:

    Thanks for your comment, Peter. My own copy of Poisonwood Bible is dog-eared from reading and re-reading.

    The situation in the eastern provinces of Congo today is actually part of the long, convoluted horror that began in Rwanda and led to the overthrow of Mobutu. Some of the principle perpetrators of rape as a weapon of terror are remnants of the Hutu who fled that country; others are Tutsi who pursued them and/or lived in Congo to start with, including some renegade units of the DRC army. There are other forces that use the same horrendous tactics to control local populations while they exploit the riches of the region. Kidnapping and turning children into soldiers is another of their inhumane strategies. Some of them receive unofficial support from the Rwandan government (often cited as a paragon of virtue in the press). MUNOC is the main force attempting to stop them, with assistance from the official DRC armed forces. It’s guerrilla warfare, however, in a difficult locale. Past mistakes by many of those trying to bring the area under control haven’t helped, either. Some slow progress is being made, but there is a long, sad road to be traveled before the Congo sees peace.

  12. cathara says:

    i agree that rape is also an act of terrorism. evil men take advantage of women that they see as just a thing or weak.
    im an asian women and i feel sorry for those women in any race who were raped.
    i quote ‘In normal warfare, the men die at the front, but often the women reproduce children with some sick old men still alive.’
    but have you heard about women who were raped by soldiers during a war?

    ill take your books in my wishlist 😀


  13. Pete Rahon says:

    thank you for the comment…

    we are so busy the past days – holding the 2008 Gwangju International Peace Forum and tonite we just awarded the 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to Mr. Muneer Malik of Pakistan.

    Mabuhay Human Rights!

  14. JafaBrit's Art says:

    I got horrid goosebumps just reading your post, it’s just really so heartbreaking 😦

    Talking seems like so little, but without awareness nothing will change.

    thanks for dropping by my blog 🙂

  15. Uppity says:

    We hear so much about all the soldiers that die in war, but so little about the women who are left to lives of living hell because “it’s just rape.” Until governments and people surface systematic rape as a weapon of war in the same way they do any other strategy, the horror will continue. Thank you for your post!

  16. Regina says:

    What an amazing post. Rape is one of the vilest, meanest, most disrespectful, most dehumanizing form of stripping someone of their Human rights.
    It is a world wide atrocity, from Africa to right here in the USA as evidenced by the senseless rape of a woman and her child in Dunbar Village, Florida recently.
    Thank you for sharing your views.

  17. Jubie says:

    Thank you for your comment on my post:

    Additionally, I thank you for sharing your world adventures as well as your endeavors to educate the world of the atrocities that take place and for writing about ways to make a difference.

  18. Jackie says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    Excellent post, thanks for writing it. Living in South Africa where a woman is raped every 23 seconds it is always in the forefront of my mind when out and about. The courts do not punish the rapists as strongly as they should and most rapists here get off anyway due to lack of evidence.

  19. dreamzmedia says:

    It is heartbreaking indeed to see that such atrocities still continue in some parts of the world.

    I wish there was something I could do about this.

    In an ideal world, all rapists would be castrated without any aneasthetic. But I suppose that would be ‘inhumane’ too. 😦

    Thanks for dropping by my blog

  20. […] Mukwege Honored For Fight Against Rape Gynecologist Denis Mukwege, a leading voice against terror rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been awarded the 2008 Olof Palme Prize for his work to help women victims of rape and war crimes. Dr. Mukwege was an early fighter in the war against rape used as a weapon of terror in the DRC. Last year, I wrote here about his moving testimony before the US Congress. […]

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