Saturday, November 18, 2006

Rape: Weapon of War

If you've seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, you may recall the scene where Paul Rusesabagina visits George Rutaganda's camp after the Interhamwe has overrun the country. The camera pauses briefly as Paul sees a cage, where nude women are kept. If I remember correctly, as the camera pans from the cage, it leaves a scream behind. Most will not want to think what that scene was all about. Most will know. It was a silent recognition of what has happened, and what continues to happen in Rwanda and the Congo -- the systematic rape and brutalization of women and girls -- victims of war; hostages of the conflict; possessions; and worse, targets to be sexually neutralized for genocidal and psychological purposes. If there is a hell, these women are living it. If the world has heroes, this is where they are needed. If you're human, you will try and do something to stop this from continuing to happen.

Newsweek has a graphic article on the topic. It describes the rape being used as a weapon of war, where victims range from babies to the elderly. It describes what happens to the rape victims after the armed men are finished with them. Newsweek prefaces the article with the following warning: "Do not read this story if you are easily disturbed by graphic information, or are under age, or are easily upset by accounts of gruesome sexual violence." Do not take this warning lightly. The article describes fistulas -- irreparable damage caused to the walls that separate the vagina, bladder and rectum -- and the systematic way the violence is perpetrated against women and girls in the conflict. Read the horror here.

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