When news first broke of the mass rape of women and girls in the Congo at the end of the summer we were told that about 150 had been raped.
A little over a week later the number jumped to 240 women and girls.
Today, reports from the U.N. reveal that the number of victims is really over 500 – the youngest being a month-old baby boy and the oldest a woman of 110 years old.
Will it ever end?
The U.N. has admitted to “failing” victims of the Congo (with qualifiers of course) noting that, “While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force, clearly we have also failed. Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalisation of the population of the villages in the area. We must do better.”
Margot Wallstrom, the woman responsible for UN efforts to combat sexual violence in conflict said the following about this summer’s mass rapes: “It is evident that rape is increasingly selected as the weapon of choice in eastern [Congo], with numbers reaching endemic proportions. The sad reality is that incidents of rape have become so commonplace that they do not trigger our most urgent interventions.”
“…do not trigger our most urgent interventions.” Hundreds of innocent people, from newborns to grandmothers, were (and continue to be) brutally raped – many by more than one man and often in front of family. How does this not trigger “urgent intervention?”
Wallstrom’s attitude (which I’m sure is shared by many) is horrifying, as is the notion that rape in the DRC has become so commonplace it no longer raises alarm. How many more women and children must be viciously violated before “urgent intervention” is taken?
As Amelia points out in her post earlier this week, these peacekeeping missions aren’t doing their job so what will?
I’ll tell you one thing; at the very least a renewed sense of outrage and shock instead of indifference and acceptance at the mass raping of innocent women, children, and babies is desperately needed. These atrocities should fill us with an anger so deep it propels us – all of us – into action.
Photo by babasteve used under a Creative Commons license.
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