Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


More Vicious than Rape
November 17, 2006 2:22 PM   Subscribe

"More Vicious than Rape." Thousands of Congolese girls and women, among the hundreds of thousands of rape cases, who have been deliberately harmed following their rape in a particular way with a brutality that staggers the mind. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike (112 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Doctors in the Congo are seeing hundreds of Congolese girls and women, among the hundreds of thousands of rape cases, who have been deliberately harmed following their rape by "the deliberate introduction of objects into the victim's vagina when the rape itself is over. The objects might be sticks or pipes. Or gun barrels. In many cases the attackers shoot the victim in the vagina at point-blank range after they have finished raping her." The result is "a rupture of the walls that separate the vagina and bladder or rectum," resulting in women "wander[ing] into hospitals soaked in their own urine and feces, rendered incontinent by their injuries." HEAL Africa Hospital and Panzi Hospital are the hospitals whose fistula wards are often full — they help repair these conditions when they can be repaired. Last year, a 5-year-old girl was brought into Panzi Hospital -- her "tormentors had raped her and then fired a pistol into her vagina. She was operated on twice at Panzi Hospital without success before being sent to a hospital in the United States where surgeons tried twice more to repair the damage. They failed, too. She'll spend the rest of her life with a colostomy bag."
posted by WCityMike at 2:22 PM on November 17, 2006


I can't read this.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:25 PM on November 17, 2006


Jesus fucking christ. I am at a loss for words.
posted by Falconetti at 2:30 PM on November 17, 2006


Giuliani Time!

(I gather that the reason this is done is to frighten civilians into fleeing, as a method of ethnic clensing?)
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:37 PM on November 17, 2006


This is literally making me weep. What do we do? What?
posted by scody at 2:37 PM on November 17, 2006


Also, I don't think it's appropriate to post one of the most disgusting segments as "MI". If people want to hear about it, they can click the link, and see the disclamer.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:38 PM on November 17, 2006


My friend is a RN and she's told me about things like this before. It actually can happen from childbirth also.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 2:41 PM on November 17, 2006


Er...I realized my last comment may have sounded like I'm saying this is why it's happening in the Congo...that was not what I was saying.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 2:43 PM on November 17, 2006


scody: This is literally making me weep. What do we do? What?

You could donate to HEAL Africa, Panzi, the International Rescue Committee, or the Medecins Sans Frontieres' Swiss Section.

Paris Hilton: Also, I don't think it's appropriate to post one of the most disgusting segments as "MI". If people want to hear about it, they can click the link, and see the disclamer.

I suggest if you feel strongly enough about this issue, you MeTa it instead of discussing it here. There is no way to present this information that could mitigate what it is. I actually used [more inside] specifically so that people would have a warning before they clicked through to such a horrific description, as opposed to just flat-out reading it on the front page.
posted by WCityMike at 2:48 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


That's one of the most horrific things I've ever read.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:51 PM on November 17, 2006


bloody hell.
posted by Busithoth at 2:54 PM on November 17, 2006


My friend is a RN and she's told me about things like this before. It actually can happen from childbirth also.

Don't worry. Even the article mentions that 1/3 of the fistulas are not rape related.

Awful stuff all around, even for the 1/3 who get it from childbirth.

I simply can't even imagine...
posted by srboisvert at 2:59 PM on November 17, 2006


A good place to reference the Bob Herbert article (now behind the Times firewall) "Why Aren't We Shocked?" about violence against women that occurs simply because they are women--and why the media never seems to ask why this group is so often the target of violence. The non-discussed elephant in the room, as it were. As a woman, I am not shocked; I see women being the overwhelming targets of choice of murderers, monsters, and psychopaths in movies and TV every day. If a TV series has a strong female character, I expect an eventual episode where she will either be raped or narrowly escape rape--it seems to be expected, treated as a natural, inevitable consequence of being female, that someone will at some time try to hurt you as viciously as they can.

To illustrate the normalization of this attitude (women=prey, even deserving and willing to be prey), seeing the movie Spider Man is a good example. It was supposed to be good harmless fun, yes? Lots of guys loved it. Not me. Because when the primary female character is nearly raped, she is not expected to feel any but the most transitory trauma when he rescues her. To even be a little turned on by it. Instead of being sick with fear and having nightmares for a long time after, which is what a real woman would feel.

(Huffington Post summary of Herbert column here):

http://tinyurl.com/yy8opd
posted by emjaybee at 3:02 PM on November 17, 2006 [5 favorites]


there just aren't words. my god.
posted by wilky at 3:03 PM on November 17, 2006


WCityMike, thank you for those links -- I'll put them to use.
posted by scody at 3:06 PM on November 17, 2006


This is evil. It's why we humans have a concept of evil.

I'm glad this article was written, and I'm glad people are responding to its horror with appropriate horror and dumbness, but I just feel so damned helpless . . . as scody said, What do we do?
posted by cgc373 at 3:11 PM on November 17, 2006


"I spent 6 hours last week in Omaha with Warren Buffett. [This is what] I learned from Warren Buffett that day:

1. Be Grateful -

There are roughly 6 Billion people in the world. Imagine the worlds biggest lottery where every one of those 6 Billion people was required to draw a ticket. Printed on each ticket were the circumstances in which they would be required to live for the rest of their lives.

Printed on each ticket were the following items:

- Sex
- Race
- Place of Birth (Country, State, City, etc.)
- Type of Government
- Parents names, income levels & occupations
- IQ (a normal distribution, with a 66% chance of your IQ being 100 & a standard deviation of 20)
- Weight, height, eye color, hair color, etc.
- Personality traits, temperment, wit, sense of humor
- Health risks

If you are reading this blog right now, I'm guessing the ticket you drew when you were born wasn't too bad. The probability of you drawing a ticket that has the favorable circumstances you are in right now is incredibly small (say, 1 in 6 billion). The probability of you being born as your prefereable sex, in the United States, with an average IQ, good health and supportive parents is miniscule.

Warren spent about an hour talking about how grateful we should all be for the circumstances we were born into and for the generous ticket we've been offered in life. He said that we should not take it for granted or think that it is the product of something we did - we just drew a lucky ticket. (He also pointed out that his skill of "allocating capital" would be useless if he would have been born in poverty in Bangladesh.)

2. Be Ethical & Fair

Continuing on the analogy above, consider this scenario:

Imagine that you were selected as the one person (out of 6 Billion) to create the systems of the world. This includes the type of government, social programs, tax systems, military systems, job markets, laws, regulations, etc.

The only catch was this: You had to come up with systems that you believed were fair and that you wanted to live with, before you were allowed to look at your ticket.

When Warren talked about this it made me reconsider the definition of ethical behavior - what type of system would you create if you didn't know what ticket you had drawn? Would you take a different position on some of the programs you are for or against if you were surrounded by a different set of circumstances?"
posted by TweetleBeetleBattleBookie at 3:17 PM on November 17, 2006 [17 favorites]


Unfuckingbelievable.
When ever I think humans have reached bottom I am once again proven to be a foolish simpleton. Unbelievable.
posted by notreally at 3:19 PM on November 17, 2006


The saddest thing of all is that I remember reading about this exact same issue years ago.

In fact, this is a dupe here too. (2005)

But I haven't really read about any solutions, just the problems. Perhaps there are no current solutions.. and that sucks.
posted by drstein at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2006


I just feel so damned helpless . . . as scody said, What do we do?

The most direct thing, aside from going there ourselves, would be to donate money to groups like Heal Africa. I imagine that even a small donation of $10 or so would be a tremendous help.
posted by mstefan at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2006


consider this scenario:

Imagine that you were selected as the one person (out of 6 Billion) to create the systems of the world. This includes the type of government, social programs, tax systems, military systems, job markets, laws, regulations, etc.

The only catch was this: You had to come up with systems that you believed were fair and that you wanted to live with, before you were allowed to look at your ticket.

When Warren talked about this it made me reconsider the definition of ethical behavior - what type of system would you create if you didn't know what ticket you had drawn? Would you take a different position on some of the programs you are for or against if you were surrounded by a different set of circumstances?"


-John Rawls in a nutshell. His masterpiece, A Theory of Justice, is basically the defining philosophical text of 20th century liberalism.

But even without a complex philosophical argument behind it, just realizing how lucky we are that we drew the ticket we did should be enough to compel anyone with a conscience to action. Thanks, WCityMike, both for awakening me to this horror and for posting links to ways to help.
posted by notswedish at 3:39 PM on November 17, 2006


Now, I don't know how to find this on Google, but also in Africa, the underage girls who are raped for all manner of reasons (cleaning the rapist from AIDS comes to mind) don't have access to the medical attention their little bodies need to deliver, and die from the disintegrating infectious fetus.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:43 PM on November 17, 2006


I’d like to show those bastards a ‘cycle of violence’
posted by Smedleyman at 3:47 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


(I know that comes off as "meanwhile, elsewhere in the country of Africa," but this evil along with female gential mutilation and general pathological patriarchy, I am beginning to woefully view Africa altogether as crisis central for women's rights.)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:48 PM on November 17, 2006


If powerful western countries gave a shit about conquering evil and making the world better with globalism, they wouldn't be wasting efforts on the comparatively minor issues of women not allowed to walk in streets without men in the Middle East (note, I am not saying that's the worst of it, nor am I saying that is OK either), and get into Africa to solve some of these crisises.

Unfortunately, they would be widely denounced by their own people for colonization and imperialism, even if their motives were good.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:53 PM on November 17, 2006


Who exactly is doing this? Is this like a fad that some lowlife personality or army is promoting?
posted by rolypolyman at 3:54 PM on November 17, 2006


People suck.
posted by Scoo at 3:56 PM on November 17, 2006


In most cases, giving sub-Saharan African nations independence, without their having any economic prospects, was a mistake. Now, they won't improve until they can trade freely with the west, and that will never happen under a western democracy because it would damage western agricultural interests.
posted by Arcaz Ino at 3:57 PM on November 17, 2006


Colonialism and Imperialism have not served the Congo well historically, what with King Leopold II being responsibel for the deaths of about 15 million Congolese. Thats, what, about a quater Stalin? At any rate it may be something to do with them being batshitinsane now.

Still, being oppresed by Belgians has novelty value.
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2006


I must be evil.

I read "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."

and I immediately thought "anal fistula". I didn't read any more.

Then I read some comments.

Maybe I'm not evil?
posted by squinky at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2006


When ever I think humans have reached bottom I am once again proven to be a foolish simpleton. Unbelievable.

Well, it seems we should believe it.

What I don't buy into is that this behavior is natural ; somebody teached these people to do that and rallied them to exercise this particular kind of violence ,as it seems to be way too systematic and is , reportedly, very deliberate.

It reminds me of the Utus and Tutzi genocide, in which a radio station incited violence and hate toward "the enemy" , exploiting a western enforced division between utu and tuzsi.

Yet not a single fucking bomb was spent to silence an hate machine, which probably wouldn't have resurrected like Radio Maria

Maybe silencing the bad teachers is a good start, combined with psycosexual education ; doubt that this will happens with church extremists on the ground and with ill-equipped missionaries which still buy into sexual dirtiness and sin.
posted by elpapacito at 4:20 PM on November 17, 2006


Who exactly is doing this? Is this like a fad that some lowlife personality or army is promoting?

One of the reasons this basketcase region has received so little attention is because it's very very hard to boil the facts down into any kind of soundbite, assuming you can even find out what the facts are. To say it's complex doesn't do it justice.

One thing we do know is that all sides in the conflict use rape as a weapon.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:24 PM on November 17, 2006


There is something very, very wrong with Africa.
posted by four panels at 4:34 PM on November 17, 2006


Some savage shit seems to come out of South America and Africa. I'm going to go lie down for a bit...
posted by The Power Nap at 4:36 PM on November 17, 2006


The Heal Africa donation link looks solid. Low overhead, real action. 300 dollars for a fistula surgery. Let us all donate and make at least one surgery possible.
posted by Rumple at 4:43 PM on November 17, 2006


scody: WCityMike, thank you for those links -- I'll put them to use.

No problem, although they're pretty much from the article itself, in the "how to help" column — can't claim too much credit for reprinting them here.
posted by WCityMike at 4:52 PM on November 17, 2006


I was raised in a safe middle class family. But as an adult I've known some challenging times economically and some prejudice. That has given me a greater understanding of why people at the lowest levels of power want to lash out at those with all the power.

But what I can't comprehend is how human beings can do such horrible things to other powerless people, to innocent children and women.

I just can't wrap my mind around what level of depravity, what sort of pathological mentality you'd need to have to be able to do this. I just can't.
posted by NorthernLite at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2006


Watch out for unscrupolous associationg collecting money by exploiting your sensibility, it's a very old trick, it almost always works.

You are not a bad person because you don't want to give money to people you never met and that promise a lot, deliver little.
posted by elpapacito at 5:02 PM on November 17, 2006


Watch out for unscrupolous associationg collecting money by exploiting your sensibility, it's a very old trick, it almost always works.

You are not a bad person because you don't want to give money to people you never met and that promise a lot, deliver little.


Pretty trollish comment — but I urge individuals not to give this guy the bandwidth he desires. Just ignore him.
posted by WCityMike at 5:04 PM on November 17, 2006


I don't think elpapacito qualifies as a troll. He's just nutty.
posted by Arcaz Ino at 5:07 PM on November 17, 2006


It's always seemed to me that in order to even consider doing something as purely vicious, evil and just plain inhuman as this, you literally have to see your victim as not a human being. It reminded me of the accounts I've seen about Rwanda -- one day you live next to someone, and a month later he cuts you to pieces (literally) with a machete because he's been told that it's what he's supposed to do. It just boggles the mind that anyone can do this and live with himself at all afterwards.

It's not limited to Africa either (look at a good section of the Germans during the Nazi period, or Chinese Cultural Revolution, or the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge). Yes, this has probably gone on for as long as people have existed, but still reading these things tends to dash whatever hope you may have had for humanity generally.
posted by clevershark at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2006


Wow. This thread has it all. Horrible attrocities in Africa that have been going on for years that you'd know about if you read stuff outside of mefi. Shrill indignity at the thought that some of these charity agencies might not be accomplishing anything (I hope they are but having worked for some similar non-profits, I doubt it). OP prancing around as an intarweb do-gooder and bravely attacking anyone who raises questions as a "troll." People so horrified by all of this that they're willing to sacrifice ten, count 'em, ten dollars.

Meh. More people should know about this stuff, and we should all feel worse about ourselves as human beings. But go out this weekend and try to make someone's life better in your neighborhood. It won't prevent any of the rapes and mutilations that are occuring as we type (among other things), but at least it's a start.

/cynic by nature
posted by bardic at 5:34 PM on November 17, 2006


Apparently, I must be incredibly simple minded. That's twice today that my brain has been boggled by a post to MeFi. The first being a comparatively ridiculous thing to be boggled about when this particular issue is considered.

I feel like...

Quite frankly, after reading this I don't even know what to feel.

I can't begin to figure out how to comprehend the information in the article. And this is the second time today that I've read this article (the first time being on redditt). Even scarier, I can recall the first time the horror of the anal fistual and gang rape in africa was brought up here in the blue.

I still can't deal with this. All I feel is mute rage and despair.

The thought of donating to one of these charitable organizations fills me with the image of trying to empty the ocean with a bucket.
posted by C.Batt at 5:40 PM on November 17, 2006


Wow. This thread has it all.

You forgot smug know-it-all snidely berating others for not sharing his position.
posted by scody at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2006


To build on what was mentioned before- not only did the Belgians colonize the Congo, but they introduced the idea of taking ears, hands, or scalps from groups who were not down to meet rubber quotas. Like many other places where entire societies were obliterated in the face of atrocity- you see it echoes and escalates down the generations.

It's the classic colonial strategy- "Get them to kill each other", and probably the ultimate biological weapon, since it can last for centuries and keep going.
posted by yeloson at 5:48 PM on November 17, 2006


You forgot smug know-it-all snidely berating others for not sharing his position.

Actually, I was berating you for your ignorance. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

This stuff has been going on for decades in Africa. It depresses me as well, I can assure you. But most of that continent was figureatively "gang-raped" for three centuries and it will take a hell of a lot to turn it around. There's no simple way around it.
posted by bardic at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2006


Absofuckinglutely horrific.

My instant, gut reaction is to send in an overwhelming, heavily armed force and slaughter every single armed man in that country and every surrounding country, and then sit there and rebuild the country from scratch, with full medical care for all these victims and importing men from elsewhere as necessary.

Good thing I'm not a world leader, and that I'm in control of my gut reactions. Genocidal atrocity should not be the response to genocidal atrocity.

What the hell does anyone do about this? Doesn't the rest of the world have some responsibility to put that house in order somehow? Are we just going to let Africa die a slow horrible death from violence and disease, because they're brown and poor? So depressing...

"It's always seemed to me that in order to even consider doing something as purely vicious, evil and just plain inhuman as this, you literally have to see your victim as not a human being."

Yes, that's exactly how it works. Otherwise "normal" people can be turned into mass murderers by dehumanizing the "enemy."

I mean, how many of us could see themselves killing someone outside of an immediate, desperate need for self-defense or defending another person (this may or may not include military combat, depending on your views)? Just killing someone, a neighbor or someone on the street? What would it take to twist your mind to the point where you'd actually kill someone just because someone else with "authority" said you should?

The fact that we, collective humanity, let this shit go on anywhere on the planet indicts us as the animals we really are. All our language and technology and law means absolutely nothing as long as other people are perpetrating and suffering as victims of horrors like this. I wish we'd fucking grow up already, and try to figure out how to stop being vicious, bloodthirsty self-predatory animals. And dammit, can we leave religion and political ideology out of it, too? These are people. Like us.

I wish I knew what we could do. I feel powerless to help, and throwing money at the problem won't do shit to stop it.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:55 PM on November 17, 2006


Actually, I was berating you for your ignorance. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

This stuff has been going on for decades in Africa. It depresses me as well, I can assure you. But most of that continent was figureatively "gang-raped" for three centuries and it will take a hell of a lot to turn it around. There's no simple way around it.


Actually, as a 2-decade veteran of political activism (not to mention a couple of history degrees under my belt), I have known about it for years -- the medical horror of fistula, the systematic sexual violence against women and children, the whole post-colonial inheritance in all its bloodsoaked reality. The fact that I wept to read it again speaks not to my ignorance of reality -- as you so cynically presume -- but to my humanity; my plea "what do we do?" speaks not to my ignorance of particular charities (though I hadn't read the particular sidebar links that WCityMike), but to my deep, acute, and pained understanding of the mind-boggling magnitude of the horror, and the scope of the political and economic struggles we have on a global scale to even begin to eradicate that.

Sorry not to have made that clear. Ass.
posted by scody at 6:07 PM on November 17, 2006


emjaybee: So we in the west aren't shocked because we've seen spiderman? I find unexpected levity in your incongruous comment.
posted by econous at 6:23 PM on November 17, 2006


The fact that we, collective humanity, let this shit go on anywhere on the planet indicts us as the animals we really are.

Duh. Superstition has allowed unbelievable numbers of people to nestle themselves into comfortable illusions of universal order and justice.

Fight the good fight, but realize you aren't fighting to win.
posted by phrontist at 6:24 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


The fact that we, collective humanity, let this shit go on anywhere on the planet indicts us as the animals we really are.

Hey we are animals, but that hasn't stopped us from achieving great advancements, prosperity and long periods of peace in a realtively short time. The last big war happened just 60 years ago and we are still struggling trying to get rid of the legacy of the last few thousand years...getting rid of extremism, self destructing ideologies, blind faith religions, corrupted politicians isn't a task done overnight.

Just only 20-25 years ago the fear of communism pervaded most of the western countries, I clearly have memories of the "fear of the red evil" ; McCartism happened just "yesterday" in one of the world greatest, most advanced, most rich nations ..even if it turns out that part of the american dream was , indeed, public relation propaganda.

I think we should start from ourselves, before even attempting to "save" africa or whatever ; let Iraq be an example of how military and industrial might can't achieve much or is substantially inefficient at "spreading democracy".

Look for instance at Italy, a very young constitutional republic. We were unified in 1870, we left monarchy and entered Republic just in 1946 ; we still are very much culturall y divided by sterotypes compounded by significant economical differences in developement between northern italy and souther italy. All the industrial might, the historically significant presence of the Church of Rome , haven't resolved all our internal identity problems (exacerbated and extremized by Mussolini).

I don't really think at Africa , even if I sympathize with the poor women being mistreated so inhumanly , I think we must first get rid of our internal, biggest problems, before exporting methods rather then means.
posted by elpapacito at 6:36 PM on November 17, 2006


People suck.

No, men. Bad men. Where do monsters like this come from? How to make these bad men go away?

This is inconcievable. Right this moment there are bad men like this, living in Africa, who have in the last days or hours destroyed women and children, and they are now drinking beer and having lunch.

Nice planet.
posted by Brave New Meatbomb at 6:42 PM on November 17, 2006


bardic -- yeah ten dollars. Throw yours in the pot or shut the fuck up about what others might give. Unless, by chance, you are worse off than these women. Which, since you seem like one of the more superficial prats in a site with no shortage of superficial prats, seems unlikely.

And the issue is not three century old "figurative gang rape" -- its the real kind of gang rape, happening right now. But don't let that rock your tiny hipster world.
posted by Rumple at 6:48 PM on November 17, 2006


I looked at this thread about 4 hours ago. I read the FPP lead and the MI and the first few posts. I had to go away and hope that darkness would dissipate.

So, it didn't and I came back and started to read the comments...but I couldn't concentrate. So I read the article...which I hadn't really wanted to do.

Their purpose is simply to ruin [a] people
posted by taosbat at 6:55 PM on November 17, 2006


Nice of you to help these women out by slagging on me Rumple. Such a generosity of spirit on your part.

I've actually made a small suggestion as to what anyone can do, starting right now, to make a difference -- act locally. Try to make someone in your neighborhood or office feel better. Save your ten dollars as far as I'm concerned. And read some history books please -- you can lament these attrocities all you want, but realize that they come about, in the long-run, because of Colonialism and a so-called "liberation" in the 1950's and 1960's that was really just Western powers passing the buck to a generation of under-educated Africans who were caught between the competing interests of the Cold War. Cursory, I realize, but don't remain ignorant. It's the least you can do.
posted by bardic at 7:07 PM on November 17, 2006


Thanks for the advice bardic, and the lecture. I'll be sure to add "colonialism" to my reading list, I'm always looking for new ideas to go with my Phd in Anthropology. Not to mention new insight into the human condition. You've provided plenty of that too.
posted by Rumple at 7:12 PM on November 17, 2006


Wow, an Anthro PhD. Next you'll be telling me you got a degree at Harvard Divinity as well.

As an academic, do you honestly think that "the issue is not [a] three century [] 'figurative gang rape'"? Not to get all Frantz Fanon on you, but you must have slept through a few classes.
posted by bardic at 7:25 PM on November 17, 2006


Mine's in the pot. Easiest donation I've made all year.
posted by Samizdata at 8:08 PM on November 17, 2006


While I don't know that I agree with his tone, I admit that I basically agree with bardic here.

Yes, this is horrible.

But it shouldn't be beyond anyone's conception. This sort of shit has been part of African history for a long time.

Yes I'm horrified... but... this article has done nothing to enhance that horror. While I hadn't read about some of these instances in particular, I just sort of assumed they were going on. Whatever brutality I can imagine, I also imagine is going on somewhere in the world - usually Africa.

And really, human history in general is filled with these sorts of things... completely meaningless brutality. The Crusades, anyone? Over and over again?

Gah. I hope I don't come off as too condescending. I just have this lingering feeling that people shouldn't really be surprised that this is going on.
posted by Alex404 at 8:09 PM on November 17, 2006


But what I can't comprehend is how human beings can do such horrible things to other powerless people, to innocent children and women.

I would guess (and that's all it is, just a guess) that the systemic use of rape like this is reinforced by the propaganda that the enemy isn't human. Kind of like how the Hutu's constantly referred to the Tutsi as "cockroaches".

When you stop thinking of a group of people as human, and see them as something less than a farm animal, then it opens the door to all kinds of atrocities. In that mindset, raping and murdering children is given no more thought than what we would give to stepping on an anthill. Because as far as they're concerned, those aren't women and children, they're vermin to be exterminated.

Unfortunately, history teaches us that all it takes is one charismatic sociopath to whip a mob into a frenzy, and the gates of Hell can open up.
posted by mstefan at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Who exactly is doing this? Is this like a fad that some lowlife personality or army is promoting?
posted by rolypolyman at 3:54 PM PST on November 17


Wonder who trained and funded those militias? who backed them? there's a pattern of depraved and demented differences in the details of the different militias - read that part, one uses fire, one uses a gun, they've all been taught to damage the womb i.e. ensure that there won't be anymore babies for a while being born where there's no food and water.

makes one paranoid to think about it, but hey... someone's got to look at the worst case scenario here.
posted by infini at 8:33 PM on November 17, 2006


As an academic, do you honestly think that "the issue is not [a] three century [] 'figurative gang rape'"? Not to get all Frantz Fanon on you, but you must have slept through a few classes.

bardic -- sure, that's part of the ultimate cause. Now, why would you come into this thread ridiculing posters who care about actual people? You know, the ones that just got gang-raped? Try holding these two thoughts in your head at once: (a) figurative gang rape of continents is bad, and (b) actual gang rape of women and children is bad.

10 bucks won't help the former, it might help the latter. And this thread is actually about the latter. But have fun saving the world going around talking to people in your neighbourhood. Which, by the way, is about the least "Fritz Fanon" thing you could do.
posted by Rumple at 8:41 PM on November 17, 2006


Unfortunately, disheartening reports like this article, open my eyes to the abundance of opportunity I have as a male in the United States. That I am indeed very lucky, as the Warren Buffet quote mentioned.

I am so sorry.

Regrettably, such atrocities may still occur after I am dead.

Thank you for the FPP, WCityMike.

.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 8:52 PM on November 17, 2006


Sorry, on preview, that doesn't sound quite right.

It's unfortunate that such atrocities occur.

It's fortunate that these unfortunate events give me some qualitative measure to understand just “how good” I really have “it.”
posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:05 PM on November 17, 2006


"I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." - Abraham Lincoln

"The best way to make people of one mind is to smash their heads together" - The Hulk.

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." - Abraham Lincoln

bit conflicted. But we do what we can to make the world a better place. That's all we can do. Lest we become monsters ourselves.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:10 PM on November 17, 2006


There is something very, very wrong with Africa.

But it shouldn't be beyond anyone's conception. This sort of shit has been part of African history for a long time.

It's not Africa, it's the Congo. Viewing Africa as a massive, uniform disaster helps us justify inaction by believing that its problems are permanent or natural. But they're not; the Congo is plagued by violence, Botswanna is plagued by AIDS, Eritrea is plagued by water sanitation problems and Nigeria is plagued by government corruption. Africa's problems are varied, specific and, if not quite solvable, at least not hopeless either. Granted, I have no idea how to deal with the situation the article describes, other than the longshot of sending peacekeepers and doctors, but the Congo is, to my limited knowledge, the worst off of any African nation.

I would guess (and that's all it is, just a guess) that the systemic use of rape like this is reinforced by the propaganda that the enemy isn't human. Kind of like how the Hutu's constantly referred to the Tutsi as "cockroaches".

It reminded me of the accounts I've seen about Rwanda -- one day you live next to someone, and a month later he cuts you to pieces (literally) with a machete because he's been told that it's what he's supposed to do.

It reminds me of the Utus and Tutzi genocide, in which a radio station incited violence and hate toward "the enemy" , exploiting a western enforced division between utu and tuzsi.


Supposedly, much of the recent trouble in the Congo was instigated by Hutus who fled west from Rwanda after their offensive there collapsed.
posted by gsteff at 9:12 PM on November 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


I thought that clicking the comments to get a gist of it would be safe, relatively.

It wasn't.

Christ.

Seriously.

Christ.
posted by disillusioned at 9:14 PM on November 17, 2006


I apologize for my tone. But this type of stuff makes me really angry, obviously. Reading books about this stuff won't prevent a single woman from being raped and mutilated, but it's something of a start. I'm not sure what Rumple's beef with me on this is, but I'd like to think we can avoid perpetuating the myth that African males = sexual predators. There are some complex reasons for why they are doing what they are doing in certain places (and there are plenty of modern, thriving cities in Africa as well that don't get the attention that something like this gets), but in general stuff like this is just awful on so many levels. Probably fifth or sixth down my list of outrage, after the obvious inhumanity of it all and the laziness of Western nations to help out, would be something along the lines of "Another opportunity to cheaply assuage liberal guilt." Because frankly, and unfortunately, this isn't news to me at all. A few years ago NPR had an interview with a doctor's group that actually travelled to Africa solely for the purpose of performing reconstructive surgery on these womens' vaginas and anuses.

/Jesus fucking christ. I live in a world where I had to type that last sentence. So fuck me, I'm done with this thread and again apologize to anyone who I upset.
posted by bardic at 9:17 PM on November 17, 2006


Some of the comments here belong in MeTa. Or better yet, the deleted pile.

Sad to say, anal fistula was the first thing I thought of when I read the headline, too.
Just horrible.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:23 PM on November 17, 2006


Gsteff, thanks for pointing out that it is indeed wrong to characterize Africa as a uniform disaster.

Otherwise though I still feel what I wrote.
posted by Alex404 at 10:32 PM on November 17, 2006


This shouldn't be taken as displaying any abiding concern for the welfare of the perpetrators, but you've got to wonder what kind of long-term psychiatric harm even doing this sort of thing must have on someone, let alone being the person to whom it was done.

If the act of killing can be shown to have a devastating psychological impact on most perpetrators, then this is a crime that will end up leaving no-one unharmed: not even the people doing it.
posted by tim_in_oz at 10:44 PM on November 17, 2006


Noah was a Sophist.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:50 PM on November 17, 2006


Sorry - this is a more useful link than the one above. Culled from an excellent post in 2004.
posted by tim_in_oz at 10:55 PM on November 17, 2006


this is sickening - and the US votes for more gas on the fire for this type of brutality.
posted by specialk420 at 1:17 AM on November 18, 2006


Something else about the Congolese civil war has to give you shudders, but you probably haven't heard much about it either: cannibalism used as a weapon against pygmy tribes.
posted by clevershark at 1:27 AM on November 18, 2006


We should all get really upset about gay marriage and forget all about this.

And, yes, this article was one of the saddest things I've read. I don't see any end to stuff like this until people start being able to put the world in a more rational perspective.
posted by pkingdesign at 1:43 AM on November 18, 2006


.
posted by squirrel at 8:27 AM on November 18, 2006


Hier ist kein warum.
posted by Football Bat at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2006


throwing money at the problem won't do shit to stop it.

...but it could greatly improve the lives of the women who could then get the surgery.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:56 AM on November 18, 2006


sigh... best of the web and worst of the web right in this thread. I do appreciate WCityMike posting this, although sadly this topic is not new - it's as old as 'civilization' itself. As horrific as that article is, on a purely anthropological level it is revealing to see how the tool of rape becomes commonplace, almost institutionalized and prescribed as a practice among a group. The ideal of different sides having their unique, 'special methods', 'special' types of injuries shows you how far down and ingrained the practice of rape in war can permiate a culture. Indeed Yoko Ono was right - woman is the nigger of the world...

On a pratical level I understand what little we can do - help organizations like HEAL, help our local neighbourhoods where we can as well, help however you can to work for a just world. But how do we stop what's going on there, and any other place? How do we get past the literal bandaid solutions here? How can the world help without falling into the trap of colonialism and interferance? Do we get the UN involved? (sorry, default reaction from a Canadian here). What does the world do?

The only hope after reading a story about the atrocities of human rights violations is remembering that there is good as well as evil - that things like Truth and reconciliation commissions exist. That's the only thing sometimes that keeps me going...that there are NGOs doing good work, that people are trying to heal these horrific areas of evil. Often, though... there isn't much hope in the situation at all.
posted by rmm at 10:38 AM on November 18, 2006


I just can't wrap my mind around what level of depravity, what sort of pathological mentality you'd need to have to be able to do this. I just can't.

I guess being a young boy and seeing it done to your mother/sister/daughter/every woman you know would give you a start towards developing that kind of pathological mentality. It's a viral approach, and equally hard to work out where it all started as any other kind of virus, equally hard to get it back in the bottle once it's started to spread.

As for all the squabbling in this thread, yeah, I've heard of fistulas too, I'm sure lots of us have, but sometimes I need reminding how abnormally blessed my life is.
posted by penguin pie at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2006


(ok, maybe a young man if you're seeing it done to your daughter).
posted by penguin pie at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2006


HOLY CRAP!!!!!

I know you guys aren't going to believe this, but in 82 posted comments, NO ONE thought to blame BUSH for this?!

Hard to believe, but no one identified RUMSFELD as the ringleader of the rapists-- he and CHENEY used HALLIBURTON to cause the fistulas in an effort to humiliate FRANCE.

Joking aside, anyone want to revisit the "man is inherently evil" position?
posted by tomrac at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2006


I am so sorry.

Why? Because you got lucky and someone else didn't?

Apologize for the things you have an actual hand in. Not for the crap you have no power over. If you want to feel sorry for anything, feel sorry for the fact that you feeling sorry is about as close as you'll come to really doing anything about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:40 PM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


tomrac writes HOLY CRAP!!!!!

I know you guys aren't going to believe this, but in 82 posted comments, NO ONE thought to blame BUSH for this?!

Hard to believe, but no one identified RUMSFELD as the ringleader of the rapists-- he and CHENEY used HALLIBURTON to cause the fistulas in an effort to humiliate FRANCE.


Fuck off.
posted by bardic at 4:51 PM on November 18, 2006


“If you want to feel sorry for anything, feel sorry for the fact that you feeling sorry is about as close as you'll come to really doing anything about it.”

That, and donating to an aid or relief organization. And doing what I can to help in my own community.

Obviously, those actions won't solve this problem, but one has to start somewhere.

phrontist : Fight the good fight, but realize you aren't fighting to win.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2006


Just curious-- did anyone else feel funny reading the disclaimer-- caution, sexual material not appropriate for children/ etc. I think it is a very good article, and I agree it's not for children, but the point is that we should all be taking note of this, even if it makes us feel bad.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2006


Apologize for the things you have an actual hand in. Not for the crap you have no power over. If you want to feel sorry for anything, feel sorry for the fact that you feeling sorry is about as close as you'll come to really doing anything about it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient An hour ago


eponysterical, if posted by Civil Obedient. Otherwise, just another jaded, too-cool to care, cynical hipster.
posted by Rumple at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2006


It's terribly horrifying and heartbreaking.

I have heard of fistulas in Africa caused by childbirth. Since women are often birthing without medical help and are young, fistulas are a more common occurrence.

I haven't heard of fistulas being caused by rape and brutal acts of violence after the rape. Women are shunned and left to themselves once they have a fistula. Thankfully there are people who want to help. The fistula foundation repairs obstetric fistulas in Ethiopia.

http://www.fistulafoundation.org/
posted by LoriFLA at 6:30 PM on November 18, 2006


This email confirms that you have paid HEAL Africa (info@healafrica.org) $35.00 USD using PayPal.
posted by nostrada at 6:55 PM on November 18, 2006


Tomrac, not everything is about the USA. I have no reason to believe this administration has done anything at all to make things better, but this is about horrible civil war, ignorance, greed, and pure evil.
posted by theora55 at 7:12 PM on November 18, 2006


ive been thinking about this horrible shit all day today... and how the arms industry makes its living off feeding death to places like the congo - we need to do something about the industries and war profiteers that make this shit possible.
posted by specialk420 at 7:23 PM on November 18, 2006


not everything is about the USA

uh... maybe not but:

"The vote in the UN General Assembly’s First Committee is the first time that governments have voted on the proposal to develop an Arms Trade Treaty, and support was overwhelming: 139 voted yes, with only the United States voting against. Support was particularly strong in Africa, Latin America and Europe."

how can one not be enraged about this type of hideous violence and at the only country voting against curbs on the weapons trade that makes this possible at the same time? let alone the hypocrisy of "liberating" one country while letting others slide into genocide?
posted by specialk420 at 7:26 PM on November 18, 2006


First Bardic said: Meh. More people should know about this stuff, and we should all feel worse about ourselves as human beings. But go out this weekend and try to make someone's life better in your neighborhood. It won't prevent any of the rapes and mutilations that are occuring as we type (among other things), but at least it's a start.

Then Bardic said (to me):Fuck off.

Which is too bad, because Bardic has:

MetaFilter: 44 RSS feed of posts by bardic posts and 3766 comments
MetaTalk: 4 RSS feed of posts by bardic posts and 557 comments
Ask MeFi: 6 RSS feed of posts by bardic questions and 28 answers

At 5 minutes a comment, that's 360 hours; at 15 minutes a post it's 12 hours, total 372 hours-- over two years= 3.6 hours a week on MetaFilter, just posting-- not counting the Ask Mefi, reading other people's posts/comments, his idiotic blog, etc.

So, I'm guessing you don't have a job. At least, not one based on productivity.

Oh, look! An Ad hominem attack! On MeFi no less!
posted by tomrac at 7:34 PM on November 18, 2006


yo tomrac. you might want to take a look at bush and rumsfelds masters... the global arms trade making their living off of endless wars and weapons buddy... in iraq, africa, etc.. and think about it for a minute. which masters do cheney and rumsfeld serve? those of war or those of peace?

the answer is obvious and bardic is right.
posted by specialk420 at 7:46 PM on November 18, 2006


So another metafilter conversation disappears into a nostril. These stupid fistulas, and the women they own, and the cause of them, and the reason for them are, quite frankly, irrelevant to most of us. We would rather ponce/prance around our own expectations and disappointments, parade our ignorance like a flag. Bravo north American people, try to put your face further up your tiny tight arse. That way you can save on tooth brushes.

Sincerely you should really make some choices, obv init?
posted by econous at 8:41 PM on November 18, 2006


The United States spends less on foreign aid, as a percentage of GNP, than any other industrialized country. Some countries spend up to ten times as much as the United States does, as a percentage of GNP. If you're looking for a way to assign blame for these atrocities to Bush, tomrac, that might be a good place to start.

I suspect that finding a way to blame Bush is not what you were trying to do, though. But I can't figure out why else you would bring it up.
posted by Kwine at 8:47 PM on November 18, 2006


meanwhile, hundreds of concerned americans line up to get a PS3...
posted by quonsar at 9:24 PM on November 18, 2006


eponysterical, if posted by Civil Obedient

No, you're right. We should all feel genuinely sad because our situations, which are so clearly and completely within our control, are better than others, who, also having complete control over their lot in life, have seemingly chosen to live in such a miserable state. I do wonder why it is that some people would actively choose such horrible lives, but clearly fate has nothing to do with it. Although I do wonder why, if this is the case, we should therefore beat ourselves up because we're so selfish as to select a wonderful life when others select terrible ones. I mean, if it's obviously their choice to live that way, why then waste your time feeling sad about it?

Alternately, you can accept that this is all a crapshoot, and that safe, happy life has nothing to do with you, that you have virtually no control over it, and therefore should not be sad because of something you could never have changed. Note that this does not in any way, shape or form suggest not helping out those who weren't so lucky.

But I get the impression you're trying to change the subject of my response, which is all-too-typical of modern discourse. To wit: CC apologizes for being born lucky, which he had no control over, I point this out, and therefor I'm a Tool of the Man because of it. Well if you're calling this tool a spade, let me help you dig your head out of the sand: this self-loathing, self-flagellating I'm Not Worthy crap is tired and pointless. Leave it to the bleeding hearts to turn it into a discussion about themselves.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:39 PM on November 18, 2006 [3 favorites]


wow C_D. thats a lot of rationalization right there. Maybe if you spent as much time and energy actually caring as you apparently do rationalizing why its better not to care and pointless to feel bad about gang rape happening to fellow humans, then, you might get energized to try to do something about it, and then maybe you could make a difference.

But it would appear you are more concerned with making sure other people don't have any dangerous illusions, especially idealistic ones that might make you look bad. At least that's all I can get out of your rambling, because for the life of me I have no clue why you would be trying to dissuade people from caring.
posted by Rumple at 1:01 AM on November 19, 2006


[NOTE: there is a metathread where you can continue ongoing "fuck off" "no YOU fuck off" discussion, please don't do it here]
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on November 19, 2006


Anyone remember Vachel Lindsay's poem The Congo?

Death is an Elephant,
Torch-eyed and horrible,
Foam-flanked and terrible.
BOOM, steal the pygmies,
BOOM, kill the Arabs,
BOOM, kill the white men,
HOO, HOO, HOO.
Listen to the yell of Leopold’s ghost
Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.
Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:59 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nice planet.
posted by Brave New Meatbomb
Hey man, leave the planet out of this.
posted by Aquaman at 1:29 PM on November 19, 2006


I just donated $60 to MSF on the strength of the FPP - thanks for bringing this to my attention WCityMike.

Further - I only donate to agencies that have no religious affiliations - Medecins Sans Frontieres is one and PLAN International is the other (to which I give regularly).

I'd appreciate info on any other agencies that operate in these ways.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:21 PM on November 19, 2006


How about the Fred Hollows Foundation? Not exactly the same work, but not religious either:

Through skills training programs and the development of new technologies, we have helped to restore the sight of more than 1,000,000 people worldwide.

By coincidence, I have a friend who worked for MSF in Africa for a year or two, not in the Congo, but in Uganda, with all that awful Lord's Liberation Army rubbish going on. An American, she gave up life as a high-flying corporate auditor to do this. She's still with MSF, but not out in the field at the moment, last I heard.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:24 PM on November 19, 2006


Of course! I forgot to look in my own backyard - thanks UbuRoivas!

I think an askmefi is in order though - to just reinforce the options and get together a list of reasonable options for post casffeine charitable activities.
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:38 PM on November 19, 2006


The Conspiracy against Africa --from The Walrus. There are 82,000 African millionaires and other interesting titbits.
posted by Rumple at 9:38 PM on November 19, 2006


Great article, Rumple, thanks.
posted by gsteff at 10:10 PM on November 19, 2006


this self-loathing, self-flagellating I'm Not Worthy crap is tired and pointless. Leave it to the bleeding hearts to turn it into a discussion about themselves.

Also, it's crucial not to overlook the specificity of rape in war, and its political significance. There's a long history there that spans many different countries and continents.

Of course such accounts are bound to make us react by thinking how lucky we have it and being horrified at yet another instance of the levels of brutality mankind can sink into, but where does that leave us?

These crimes are only going to be recognised and punished as torture and human rights abuses by focusing a lot more on their specific political context, and that's their motivation and that's where the tools for prosecuting them as war crimes lie. This article is a good read on the issues involved in that respect.
posted by pleeker at 1:28 AM on November 20, 2006


...as that's their motivation and where...
posted by pleeker at 1:29 AM on November 20, 2006


With military analysts predicting the world's biggest arms bonanza since 1993, the US heads the pack in the multi-billion dollar industry. No surprise, then, that the US and other major arms suppliers refuse to sign on to a United Nations treaty aimed at regulating the business.
posted by homunculus at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2006


I was lucky enough to draw a pretty good "lotto" ticket by being born where I was and to my parents. However, I have read so many stories like this and wonder how these people continue on. In my privileged existence, I have had periods of blackness where I wondered about the why and how of continuing on.

I simply cannot imagine extrapolating that blackness into the horrors and poverty that the women in this story must live with both before and after their bodies are destroyed by these atrocious, heinous rape tactics. What keeps these women going? What do they find in their lives in order to find the will to continue breathing? I wonder these things because I don't know that in similar circumstances I wouldn't throw my battered body off a high cliff as a final act of penance to the gods and expression of my own free will.
posted by melangell at 1:53 PM on November 20, 2006


« Older Dick Meyer, editorial director of CBSNews.com, cal...  |  Emerging from the Mist:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments