Congo’s Rape Scourge

August 13, 2009

Ahead of Hillary Clinton’s vist to the Congo, the NYT and Washington Post published articles on the ever increasing levels of sexual violence in the Congo: the NYT focusing of the increased incidence of male rape and the Post looking at the extent to which Congo’s official army is contributing to this tragedy.
The numbers of rapes perpetrated, the ubiquitous manner in which they’re committed, clearly speak to the fact that crimes against humanity are ongoing in the Congo. But these types of categorisations — the enormity they encompass — often numb us to the individual experience and just how horrendous that is.

From the Post:

As women here do most mornings, Madelena Ngalya left the village around 9 a.m. one recent day and walked alone along a path through the jungle to her farm. The 56-year-old widow had been planting there for about an hour when she saw a soldier at the edge of the field. He walked toward her.
“I started trembling when I saw him,” she said. “I felt unable to cry, even to scream. I said, ‘My son, how are you?'”
The soldier asked whether she was by herself.
“I said, ‘I’m alone here,’ she said. “He said, ‘If you cry, we have many soldiers in the jungle, and when others hear you cry, they will come to you, too.’ My body was like dead. Then he did what he wanted to do.”

And from the NYT:

Tupapo Mukuli . . . said he was pinned down on his stomach and gang-raped in his cassava patch seven months ago. Mr. Mukuli is now the lone man in the rape ward at Panzi hospital, which is filled with hundreds of women recovering from rape-related injuries. Many knit clothes and weave baskets to make a little money while their bodies heal.
But Mr. Mukuli is left out.
“I don’t know how to make baskets,” he said. So he spends his days sitting on a bench, by himself.
. . .
[I]n a place where homosexuality is so taboo, the rapes carry an extra dose of shame.
“I’m laughed at,” Mr. Mukuli said. “The people in my village say: ‘You’re no longer a man. Those men in the bush made you their wife.’ ”


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