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U.N. must find a solution to the rape epidemic in Congo

Published: Fri, October 8, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

A year after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the central African nation of Congo and pledged $17 million to fight the epidemic of sexual violence, innocent women, girls and even boys are still being raped at will — and in shockingly large numbers.

But what is most disturbing about the situation is that the United Nations has had a peacekeeping force in the country for 10 years, and yet the civilian population remains at risk.

Congo, which is rich in minerals, has been plagued by civil war for more than 15 years. A U.N. report was released this week documenting the atrocities committed between 1993 and 2003. More than 5 million people died.

The report singles out the military of neighboring Rwanda for war crimes and genocide. It has been widely reported that the troops, mostly of the Tutsi tribe, and rebels allied with them, slaughtered tens of thousands of the Hutu ethnic group.

Against that background, the epidemic of sexual violence, which was illustrated by the mass rapes that took place over a four-day period this summer, demands an aggressive response from the United Nations.

Indeed, in August, the U.S. ambassador to the world organization, Susan Rice, made it clear that the Obama administration wants to know why the rapes are occurring and what can be done to prevent a repeat of the summer violence.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon sent top officials to investigate the rapes.

But as the New York Times revealed this week, the gang-raping of at least 200 women in the village of Luvungi took place while dozens of peacekeepers were based just up the road.

The Times story focused on an 80-year-old woman who was repeatedly raped by four armed men who broke into her house, slapped the children and threw them down and then had their way with her.


The newspaper quotes the elderly woman as yelling to the attackers, “Grandsons, get off me.”

The Times explains what is taking place this way:

“Luvungi, a village of about 2,000 people, is a crucible where so many of Congo’s intractable problems converged: the scramble for minerals; the fragmentation of rebel groups; the perverse incentives among armed groups to commit atrocities to bolster their negotiating strength; the poverty that keeps villages cut off and incommunicado; and the disturbing fact that in Congo’s wars, the battleground is often women’s bodies. United Nations officials call the sexual violence in Congo the worst in the world.”

The international community cannot remain silent any longer. The Unites States, which is preoccupied with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and the establishment of a stable civilian government in Iraq, as well as pursuing terror groups in Pakistan, has a responsibility to lead the way in protecting the civilian population in Congo.

Human decency demands no less.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

"The newspaper quotes the elderly woman as yelling to the attackers, “Grandsons, get off me.”

When society breaks down then there is no peace or dignity left !

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2onthetown(254 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

redvert & djcolon:

congratulations on being white.

also, you're pathetic.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

"Indeed, in August, the U.S. ambassador to the world organization, Susan Rice, made it clear that the Obama administration wants to know why the rapes are occurring and what can be done to prevent a repeat of the summer violence."

Castration woul be 100% effective in controlling this epidemic .

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4onthetown(254 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

i've met more than enough white people who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a relative or an acquaintance to know that sexual violence has its place in our "civilized" culture.

(and that's without mentioning the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse within Catholicism.. but that's another story on its own)

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5onthetown(254 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

again, djcolon, congratulations on your white/caucasian ancestry. you are clearly an elite specimen.

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6onthetown(254 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

can't argue with the straight-up facts. rape (and other violence/crime) among black males (specifically 18-30 y.o.) is alarming. however, this isn't a matter of genetics like redvert/djcolon are insisting. it's a matter of culture.

the genocide/warfare against native americans in the early years of our country certainly included rape-as-warfare - thankfully our culture no longer view this behavior as acceptable. (well the rape-as-warfare part.. not necessarily the imperialist tendency.. anyway..)

like most injustice, crime or corruption - it's cultural - and in the african continent rape is too easily accepted as "just the way things are". however, cultures can and do change and i hope and pray the warfare and sexual violence come to an end. (however.. i wouldn't count on the U.N. doing anything that would bring about that change..)

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7VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I submit that these are cultural methods of tribal retaliations in an effort to demoralize the opposing tribe as well as pass on life-threatening diseases from masses of infected soldiers. The U.N. workers are more interested in passing out mosquito nets than they are guns for self-protection. I bet if you had given a revolver with 6 bullets to a potential rape victim, she would have used all 6 of those bullets before she used the mosquito net.

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8woolyd(579 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

hmmm could the problems in the Congo relate to the destruction of the continent of Africa due to slavery, racism, apartheid, and the theft of valuable minerals, resources, and diamonds that occurred through the expeditions of whites to the continent and white colonization? A couple of you idiots blogging on here should really learn the true history of the continent and the people there.

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

You are right woolyd ,we should stay out of their conflict in the Congo as it is an internal matter .

We stopped hitler in europe but this was amongst whites . Some still lament that hitler was stopped .

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