Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ignoring rape?

It's been happening for decades, indeed centuries, but here is the latest example of legal and other state authorities failing to respond appropriately to rape. This New York Times story reports that an early email within the United Nations indicated that rapes were occurring in early August in a region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but peacekeepers failed to respond in a timely fashion. Here's part of the story's lede:
The United Nations’ beleaguered peacekeeping mission in Congo, which costs more than a billion dollars a year but has failed to stop widespread violence against civilians, has been harshly criticized since the news broke 10 days ago that United Nations peacekeepers did not respond to a rebel attack in which nearly 200 women were raped.

According to an e-mail sent within United Nations agencies on July 30, as the attack was unfolding, United Nations officials knew that the rebels had infiltrated the area and that at least one woman had been raped.

* * *

Over the three days [following the email], from July 30 to Aug. 2, hundreds of F.D.L.R., along with gunmen from another rebel group, raped at least 179 women.

F.D.L.R. is the acronym for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, described as "a fearsome rebel group that includes former Rwandan genocidaires who have been hiding out in Congo for years and preying upon the local population." According to the NYTimes story, many women were gang raped in the presence of their families.


MRVanegas said...

I have heard a report on NPR regarding this epidemic of rape in the Congo, and I barely could contain myself. The worst part was when they talked about it going on for the last SEVEN years. That is incredible. The rebels are infiltrating these areas and are gang-raping women, some as young as 12 years of age, and then returning a couple of years later. They use the pretext of searching for gold in the women's vagina, violate them by their fists, and then proceed to rape them, in front of their children and families. And year after year, the same violence erupts. And we are listening on the radio, feeling powerless.

Rebecca said...

I have been concerned about violence against women and children all of my adult life. The news stories from the Congo have been alarming. As part of my effort to stay current on the issue of violence against women and children, I came across this great link I would like to share.


MRVanegas said...

On Sept. 9, 2010, I have heard an NPR report about the U.N. peacekeeping forces issuing a statement of regret:

"While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force,” said UN assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping Atul Khare. “Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalisation of the population of the villages in the area. Clearly we have also failed. We must do better."