Hearts of Darkness
October 7, 2007 9:00 PM   Subscribe

This article, about rape in the Eastern Congo, (nytimes, bugmenot here) makes for hard and disturbing, yet important, reading.

In addition to the stories reported, one paragraph from the article stayed with me: "Many Congolese aid workers denied that the problem was cultural and insisted that the widespread rapes were not the product of something ingrained in the way men treated women in Congolese society. 'If that were the case, this would have showed up long ago,' said Wilhelmine Ntakebuka, who coordinates a sexual violence program in Bukavu." I understand the work these sentences are trying to do, allowing the Times to bear witness to rape without letting its readers draw easy conclusions about the "savagery" of distant, alien Africans. But I wonder if a better way to do this, though beyond the scope of a newspaper article, might have been to reflect on the ubiquity and ineradicability of violence in all times and places, from the Mongols to John Atchison. My hope is that, if we all hold the possibility for so much evil within us, that the places that seem most wretched must also hold the seeds of resilience and recovery.
posted by sy (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I read it this morning, and it depressed me so much that I practically curled up in a corner, whimpering.

I figured, though, that if they could survive it, I could read about it.

I will say that I don't think it's a product of how men treat women in [X] society; it's about how men treat women. It's about power: who has it, and who doesn't.
posted by rtha at 9:12 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


If an admin could replace the original link with this link, which won't go behind the NYT paywall in 2 weeks, it would be appreciated.
posted by gen at 9:53 PM on October 7, 2007


Dr. Mukwege, 52, said he remembered the days when Bukavu was known for its stunning lake views and nearby national parks, like Kahuzi-Biega.

“There used to be a lot of gorillas in there,” he said. “But now they’ve been replaced by much more savage beasts.”


If I were a gorilla, I'd hang my head in shame if people asked me about that branch of the primate family.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:04 PM on October 7, 2007


Remember, the NYTimes paywall is gone.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:05 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them. . . .
God I love the UN. Thanks for the link, sy.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:08 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fuck it all.
I'd just read this long piece by Johann Hari on the war in the nearby Central African Republic that is also Biblical in its horror. That impacts the situation in the Congo too, and is also linked to the Rwanda fall-out, it seems.
I think importantly, it is another example of how these conflicts are connected with the actions of powers from outside Africa, both today and historically. I would agree entirely that it is always facile to dismiss the tragedies of the continent as something inherent to Africa itself (equally facile to blame it all on external forces alone, of course).
posted by Abiezer at 10:09 PM on October 7, 2007


sy, Your post prompted me to research this painful war, which I knew little about. Sometimes the wars in the world seem so many and so complex I feel swamped trying to sort out the details. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration to learn about this nightmare of a war. A few links that might be helpful to others who didn't know the backstory.

Seconding rtha's thought about rape as power abuse, particularly in war.

Rape in War.

Rape and sexual abuse are not just a by-product of war but are used as a deliberate military strategy...

Rwanda. CIA site info re Rwanda.

Genocide in Rwanda - 1994 - 800,000 Deaths

A basic synopsis:

"Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Central Africa, with just 7 million people, and is comprised of two main ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. Although the Hutus account for 90 percent of the population, in the past, the Tutsi minority was considered the aristocracy of Rwanda and dominated Hutu peasants for decades, especially while Rwanda was under Belgian colonial rule.

Following independence from Belgium in 1962, the Hutu majority seized power and reversed the roles, oppressing the Tutsis through systematic discrimination and acts of violence. As a result, over 200,000 Tutsis fled to neighboring countries and formed a rebel guerrilla army, the Rwandan Patriotic Front."

Beyond the Gates, movie trailer.

Wikipedia on the Second Congo War, "The Second Congo War, also known as Africa's World War[1] and the Great War of Africa, began in 1998 and though it officially ended in 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power, its aftershocks continue to threaten a third war. The largest war in modern African history, one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II, it directly involved eight African nations, as well as about 25 armed groups. 3.8 million people died, mostly from starvation and disease. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighboring countries.[2]

Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, 1,000 people died daily in 2004 from easily preventable cases of malnutrition and disease.[3] A U.N. human rights expert reported in July 2007 that sexual atrocities against Congolese women go 'far beyond rape' and include sexual slavery, forced incest, and cannibalism"...
posted by nickyskye at 10:12 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I will say that I don't think it's a product of how men treat women in [X] society; it's about how men treat women. It's about power: who has it, and who doesn't.

And this would be a mistake and simplistic thinking. The reality is far more insidious.

It is not JUST about how men treat women. It about how ethnicities in conflict over territory or resources treat each other. Serbian men who raped Bosnian women often had families and wives of their own and with 'progressive' gender power roles with-in their own ethnicity.

Rape is being used an ETHNIC cleansing tool. Raped women give birth to babies of mixed ethnic traits. This not only traumatizes the women, but disrupts the family units— shattering the roots of a culture because then the womens and thier children are rejected by their OWN.

The problem is rooted in scarce resources, racism, and ethnic conflict gone to insane extremes.
posted by tkchrist at 10:37 PM on October 7, 2007 [8 favorites]


I think tkchrist nailed it; what really bears discussing is why this conflict, or some conflicts, devolve to such extremes, when other ones don't. There are conflicts where these sort of atrocities don't happen, or don't happen as frequently or on as large a scale -- what's different?

Wringing our hands over the “ubiquity and ineradicability of violence in all times and places” isn't helpful; it's just an invitation for most people to stop listening (as well they should: if such savagery is both ubiquitous and ineradicable, why trouble oneself over it?). And although “violence,” generally, may be ubiquitous, systematic rape isn't. It's more common than it ought to be, but not every conflict goes there.

I think, as a civilization and species, we need to figure out why, and what can be done in the very long scale to prevent it. I'm not so optimistic as to think that all large-scale military conflict can be prevented or eliminated (setting aside some trans/post-humanist scenarios that would eliminate resource scarcity), but every one of them doesn't have to turn into the Congo.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:24 PM on October 7, 2007


Some believe that part of the blame lies under our very fingertips, in the form of cell phones, computers, and video games that use niobium and tantalum obtained from coltan ore (80% of the world's reserves are in the Congo.)

From the October 5, 2006 article Millions have died for our cell phones at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting:
The Congo conflict is occurring far from our American shores, and it rarely comes up on local evening news, but it touches nearly every American through our mobile phones, laptop computers and video games. Congo holds 80 percent of the world's reserves of coltan, a heat-resistant mineral ore that is all but essential to the operation of such devices.

Coltan is a contraction of columbium-tantalite. Without it, wireless communication as we know it would not exist. Refined coltan yields tantalum, which is used primarily for the production of capacitors, electronic components that control of the flow of current in miniature circuit boards.

Although neither Uganda nor Rwanda has significant deposits of gold, diamonds or coltan, both countries somehow have managed to become important exporters of these minerals. A 2003 U.N. panel of experts on the illegal exploitation of natural resources accused both Rwanda and Uganda of prolonging Congo's civil war so that they could illegally siphon off Congo's mineral wealth -- with the help of Western corporations.
More in the PCCR-produced video Congo's Bloody Coltan.

In chapter 5, The Human Cost of Cheap Cell Phones, of the book A Game As Old As Empire, Kathleen Kern — a Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteer — writes:
...acts of barbarism engulfing Eastern Congo are outgrowths of a global demand for high-tech consumer goods such as cell phones, laptop computers, and PlayStations. Coltan (short for columbite-tantalite), an ore vital for manufacturing these devices, has been a particular concern for those investigating the involvement of Western multinational corporations in the violence...
More about CPT efforts to help Congolese women here.
posted by cenoxo at 11:26 PM on October 7, 2007 [8 favorites]


“Some of these girls whose insides have been destroyed are so young that they don’t understand what happened to them,” Dr. Mukwege said. “They ask me if they will ever be able to have children, and it’s hard to look into their eyes.”

This is beyond awful. It's good to see some mainstream coverage of it, though.

As for people trying to postulate the causes, that's going to be a difficult task without knowing everything that's going on. There are just too many driving forces intersecting in the equation.
posted by spiderskull at 11:40 PM on October 7, 2007


Spiderskull, I copied that same quote to paste here, mostly because I was in part surprised that anyone who went through that would still want to have children.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:33 AM on October 8, 2007


Not downplaying this stuff at all (the article gave me the willies, too), but horrible stuff has been going on in the Congo for quite some time now. The last decade or so, millions of Congolese have died as a result of ongoing violence.

So what makes all these Central African countries so hellish? Is it geography, or something about the culture? I think it has to do with the fact that so many of these countries were former Belgian colonies. My understanding is that the Belgian colonies were some of the most modern. I have a theory that one reason so much of Africa is so fucked up is not just due to the manner of colonization, but the manner of decolonization. The Europeans constructed these national institutions, but didn't make much of a dent on the tribal culture. When they finally abandoned these colonies, they left these institutions (instruments of power) in the hands of people who were not properly prepared for modern civil society.

I think we're going to see the same thing happen in Iraq. In this case, you had Saddam, instead of the European colonists, imposing a modern state on a tribal culture. If you think about it, tribalism and ethnic nationalism were the dominant mode of social organization until modern times. Is it surprising that it could be kind of tough to wean people off of it? It might even be in our genes (not saying that means it is the right way to go). Whenever clan loyalty is stronger than state allegiance, then the state ceases to exist as anything more than a tool in the hands of the most powerful tribe. Then begins the quick crash in credibility, which leads to cynicism and apathy, and then corruption.

Well, it's just a theory...
posted by Edgewise at 2:50 AM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


When they finally abandoned these colonies, they left these institutions (instruments of power) in the hands of people who were not properly prepared for modern civil society.

It's not like the track record of first-world people's use of the tools of civil society was particularly good. Highlights of how "we" treated the instruments of power include:

Let's kill all the Jews!
Let's kill all the gypsies!
Let's kill or enslave all the Russians!
Let's kill all the faggots!
Let's kill all the retards!
Let's burn loads of German women and children alive!
Let's kill or enslave all the Chinese!
Let's burn loads of Japanese women and children alive!
Let's keep the blacks down!
Let's keep the Irish down!
Let's keep the Chechnyans down!
Let's kill all the Muslims!
Let's kill all the Serbs!
Let's kill all the Croats!

etc.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:01 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


(epony-sobering)
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:23 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048, I agree. Violence is everywhere, but as you point out, in some places it's rare and isolated and in others it's systematic and pervasive. Figuring out how to move from the latter to the former is our job.

Cenoxo, thank you for the information and links. I know a lot of CPTers from my undergraduate years at a Mennonite college, and when they talk I try hard to listen.
posted by sy at 5:34 AM on October 8, 2007


More resources are needed to address the humanitarian crisis in the Eastern DRC. Despite the "successful" political transition last year, violence in the east continues. For years this crisis has been going on, with precious little change on ground for most people. In 2005, the New York Times wrote about the systematic rape of girls in the eastern Congo. At that time, even UN Peacekeepers were in on the act. I was in the Eastern DRC in early 2002 and this problem was the same; rape was a standard part of the war. They do it in Darfur. They do it in Colombia. Rape is a weapon in Burma too.

It seems penises are a Weapon of Mass Destruction all over the world.
posted by cal71 at 6:32 AM on October 8, 2007


I copied that same quote to paste here, mostly because I was in part surprised that anyone who went through that would still want to have children.

Having a family is one of the most normal things in the world to do, why wouldn't these women be looking toward their future and hoping it to not be forever tainted by the horror they've been through?

Violent rape which destroys a woman's future fertility is another way of destroying a people; treat the women so savagely that they are incapable of birthing the next generation.
posted by Dreama at 7:09 AM on October 8, 2007


tkchrist. Disagreeing with your statement "Rape is being used an ETHNIC cleansing tool."

There was a scramble to own Africa by numerous imperialistic countries. Vast poverty created as a by product of that, combined with the destabilizing effect when the colonial powers left, leaving little or no infrastructure, are the foundation of the atrocities of what is happening in these particular wars.

"Africa's economic malaise is self-perpetuating, as it engenders more of the disease, warfare, misgovernment, and corruption that created it in the first place. Other effects of poverty have similar consequences."

"Africa's current poverty is rooted, in part, in its history. The transition from colonialism has been shaky and uncertain. Since mid-20th century the Cold War and increased corruption and despotism have contributed to Africa's poor economy....

"The poorest states are those engaged in or just emerging from civil wars. These include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Somalia."

The wars in this part of Africa have been going on in some cases for 40+ years, in part as an after effect of being colonised and then achieving 'independence' out of those ashes. There has been small chance for healthy family structure or healthy anything during these years.

"If someone has a craving for rape, is physically aggressive, has little respect for the law, has low moral character, low impulse control, and if the risk of getting capture slight, and the punishment for rape light, this person will likely have a greater propensity to rape."

War tends to have baby booms as an after effect, for all concerned, it's a survival defense. That's why the generation after World War II is called Baby Boomers.

In war men also get raped, children too, who are incapable of pregnancy.

Rape's after-product, should the woman who is raped become pregnant, may incidentally be an after effect. But it is not how rape is "used".

"Violence against women in conflict situations assumes many forms; rape is often only one of the ways in which women are targeted. But while other abuses, such as murder and other forms of torture have long been denounced as war crimes, rape has been downplayed as an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of sending men to war. It thus is ignored as a human rights abuse. Then when rape is reported and condemned, as it has been in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the abuses are called unprecedented and unique in their scale. In fact, wartime rape has never been limited to a certain era or to a particular part of the world."

It has traditionally been a relatively hidden aspect of war. Or it has been prettified, trivialised in depictions, such as the rape of the Sabines.

Seconding cenoxo's thoughts on "the involvement of Western multinational corporations [such as Shell Oil's damage in Nigeria] in the violence..."
posted by nickyskye at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is the stuff that Blackwater should be involved in, terrorizing the terrorist. The only thing that "they" understand is fear. When the cost and unpredictably nature of their behavior become too great, "they" will stop. A benefit of outside intervention is that "they" will become much more likely to form alliances with former enemies. Western powers who helped in creating this mess have a responsibility in stopping this. IMO Most of this comes from young men who are unemployed and because of this would have few chances of a relationship, angry; they take & destroy that which they cannot have. Note: Did most of the former British colonies do better in the long term transition to being a free state?
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2007


Well put Nickyskye and great links as well.
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2007


I think there is an way in which rape is being used as an "ethnic cleansing tool," but the reasons for that drive to cleanse an area of those who are not of the same group comes down to that scramble for resources and the old system of corruption and nepotism fostered by King Leopold and Mobutu. Racism between Hutu and Banyamulenge is an easy way for leadership to foster group cohesion, and to mobilize forces to take control of an area, but the motivating force behind the violence is, as Nickyskye notes, the scramble to own Africa. Congo is cursed because her soil is rich.
posted by cal71 at 8:46 AM on October 8, 2007


Although neither Uganda nor Rwanda has significant deposits of gold, diamonds or coltan, both countries somehow have managed to become important exporters of these minerals. Reminds me of Thailand's long-standing ruby export business. And they have none. (they're from Burma) /derail
posted by dreamsign at 9:23 AM on October 8, 2007


Did most of the former British colonies do better in the long term transition to being a free state?

When Imperialist Britain pumped and dumped her colonies, the after effects were dependent on how vulnerable each country was to neighboring predation or how fragmented and conflicted the country was internally. Some of the fragmenting and conflicts were created by the British as they left. An excellent example of this is the rumor that the British put pig fat on their bullets in killing Muslims and beef fat on the bullets in killing Hindus, anathema to those Muslims and Hindu previously co-existing in India. Recent film about this.

Colonial British rule, then made worse by escalating Muslim-Hindu conflict, carved up India just before the British left, dividing the country into a number of pieces pitting Muslims and Hindus against each other. In a nutshell, the Brits told Indian Muslims to leave India and go to either corner. The Hindus living in those parts of India were told to leave their homes and come into the new, smaller India. A staggering and devastating act of segregation.

How Pakistan got its name: It was formed by the British out of the Indian provinces of Punjab, N.W.F.P. (Afghania), Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan.

Those provinces were snipped off of India and turned into Pakistan. Another chunk of Bengal was snipped off and became East Pakistan. It is now independent and called Bangladesh.

The bloodshed, slaughter, rape and horror created by this divide, trash and dump was enormous. The British euphemism for this imperialist nightmare was "The Partition".

Artistic depictions of The Partition and Freedom at Midnight.

On decolonization and the decolonization of Africa.
posted by nickyskye at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2007


Theories about decolonization causing unrest have always made me uncomfortable. At worst they verge on what's really just a kinder, gentler racism.

People the world over are perfectly capable of returning balance to their communitites - assuming they are left with a healthy landbase on which to do so, and are allowed/able to practice and continue teaching to their children the local traditional knowledge that allows them to live in balance with their landbase. That's the measure by which we judge decolonization.

I hardly think we can say Africa has been decolonized when much of their population is still working to harvest raw materials - destroying the land in the process - to support the conspicuous consumption of the world's wealthy.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nickyskye thought about your comments on India. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 or Sepoy Rebellion. The specific reason that triggered the rebellion was the rumoured use of cow and pig fat in .557 Enfield rifle cartridges. The movie you refer to is about this.

The war of 1857 was a major turning point in the founding of modern India. From this point the British embarked on a program in India of reform and political restructuring, trying to integrate Indian higher castes and rulers into the government. They stopped land grabs, decreed religious tolerance and admitted Indians into the civil service, albeit mainly as subordinates.It was always in the interest of G Britain to maintain a united India, as it was much easier to manage.

With1885 the Indian National Congress arose claiming to represent all of India; was however a party with the vested interest of the urban elites. Congress by 1900 had emerged as an all-India political organization, its achievement was undermined by its singular failure to attract Muslims, who felt that their representation in government service was inadequate.

Attacks by Hindu reformers against religious conversion, cow slaughter, and the preservation of Urdu in Arabic script deepened their concerns of minority status and denial of rights if the Congress alone were to represent the people of India. Muslims were alarmed with the rise of Hindu nationalism, and formed the All India Muslim League in 1906, as they considered the Congress completely unsuitable for Indian Muslims. By 1909 Muslim League insisted on its separateness from the Hindu-dominated Congress, as the voice of a "nation within a nation." This schism was not at all favored by the Brits for obvious reasons.

The idea of Pakistan was presented by Allama Muhammad Iqbal in 1930. Iqbal asked Jinnah to focus his energies towards getting an independent homeland for Muslims of the South Asia. The name was proposed by Choudhary Rahmat Ali in his Pakistan Declaration in 1933.

At the end of WW2 India's population of millions left no doubt that independence was a non-negotiable goal. Against this backdrop was a war weary Britain, the British people and the British Army both unwilling to back a policy of repression in India. With the partitioning of the British Indian Empire into a secular India and a Muslim Pakistan in August 1947 there followed violent clashes between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.

So with Royal Charter by Elizabeth I in 1600 to the East India Company to the last British Governor-General of India, Viscount Louis Mountbatten 1947, 300 years of rule can hardly be seen as "pumped and dumped" If anything India ask "What took you so long?" It is suggested by some scholars that the British Democracy was so ingrained into India's marrow, that the continuation of that frame work involved little adjustment. Edgewise in his post points this out.

The long simmering religious distrust and hatred existed outside the British influence, vexing even Gandhi. Your citation of "The Partition" clearly states that the wisdom of the partition is still unsettled. What is accepted for fact is that the religious bloodshed was not of British doing.

There are 2 books I would recommend
1)Raj The Making and Unmaking of India, by Lawrence James
)Religions of India in Practice, Edited by Donald Lopez the 1st of Princeton Reading in Religions
both are great fat reads!
posted by Rancid Badger at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2007


"They Are Destroying the Female Species in Congo": Congolese Human Rights Activist Christine Schuler Deschryver on Sexual Terrorism and Africa's Forgotten War
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on October 8, 2007


Is over population (worldwide) destroyed the ability of any group to live in balance with their landbase? I think of the Phillip Glass music in the weirdly beatiful movie Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance.
posted by Rancid Badger at 12:18 PM on October 8, 2007


Homunculus that woman Christine Schuler Deschryver is braver than I ever could or will be; it makes you ashamed to be human
posted by Rancid Badger at 12:36 PM on October 8, 2007


So what makes all these Central African countries so hellish? Is it geography, or something about the culture?

I think it's something about our assassinating their first legally elected prime minister.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2007


Rancid Badger, Your question was "Did most of the former British colonies do better in the long term transition to being a free state?"

Short answer, yes, in my opinion.

Yes, the Hindu-Muslim conflict wasn't of British doing. After all the Islamic Mughuls invaded Hindu India hundreds of years before. But the Brits were renowned for their divide and rule strategy.

Depending on the infrastructure of the country at that time and the predation of others interested in the country's resources, when it comes to decolonization there has always been hell to pay of one kind or another. And the hope that the country, now freed of the invading colonizer, would sooner or later, find its way.
Being invaded is a wound and it takes a while to recover.
posted by nickyskye at 1:17 PM on October 8, 2007


Rape's after-product, should the woman who is raped become pregnant, may incidentally be an after effect. But it is not how rape is "used".

This is not true in these modern cases buddy. Did you not read your own original link?


From your link:

"In Bosnia systematic rape was used as part of the strategy of ethnic cleansing," it said.

"Women were raped so they could give birth to a Serbian baby."

posted by tkchrist at 3:39 PM on October 8, 2007


“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:26 PM on October 8, 2007


tkchrist, why would you snidely call me buddy? It's ok to disagree without being hostile or offensive about it. I value your conversations and comments here on Metafilter and also expect to amicably disagree with you from time to time. I consider you a MeFite buddy in the friendly sense of that word.

You're right, my own link justified what you said. I skimmed that article. And I still disagree with it as the main reason rape occurs in war, past or present.

In your first comment, replying to "It's about power: who has it, and who doesn't." You said, "And this would be a mistake and simplistic thinking. The reality is far more insidious."

Why do you think it's simplistic and unrealistic to think rape in war is about power but ethnic cleansing is the real and complex reason rape is now being perpetrated in contemporary war, such as in Eastern Congo?

The author of that article is Gita Sahgal, the head of Amnesty International's gender unit and a dedicated feminist. So I'm inclined to respect her work and give her the benefit of the doubt. But from the other articles I've read on the subject, I'm not convinced of that particular opinion as one of the main reasons rape occurs in wars, now or ever.

Rape in war is often accompanied by the fatal mutilation, torture, starvation and/or murder of the rape victim, female, male or child. So, even if conception occurred, the baby would, in that circumstance, not come to term.

A child conceived out of rape would likely not be welcome in the body of the woman who became pregnant and I can imagine she might try her best to abort the pregnancy and encouraged to do so by witnesses or those knowing about of the rape.

If the unborn lived to term, it is also likely, in the arena of war, war-related famine, life as a refugee, that an infant born out of rape might be deliberately, fatally, neglected or abandoned.

From the Amnesty International site's excellent article on Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences in Darfur, it states among other things, that it is a common belief among both men and women in parts of Central Africa, that if a woman doesn't want to have a child, such as while being raped, then a child will not be conceived. So I would presume that in Eastern Congo a war rapist rapist would not think a child would be conceived.

It would seem logical to think rape in war is more about power abuse as an expression of murderous hatred, rather than insidious DNA planting.
posted by nickyskye at 7:32 PM on October 8, 2007


Well put Nickyskye...Bosnia systematic rape did destroy family, as it is doing in the Congo but it seems to be a by product of rage; the Devil walks the earth.
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:53 PM on October 8, 2007


I DID mean "buddy" in the genial way. BTW. Next time I will say "Bro."
posted by tkchrist at 3:32 PM on October 9, 2007


rape in war is more about power abuse as an expression of murderous hatred, rather than insidious DNA planting

Depends on to who you think is deliberating the tactic. If you think it's some sort of spontaneous expression on behalf of individual soldiers — then —okay your talking about hate and power over an individual.

But this is organized rape. Rape as "policy." They PRACTICE it. Like in the case of Bosnia. It was plainly stated by commanders: We need to make Serbian babies in Bosnia.

It is about power — sure. But not in the sense the original poster seemed to imply... some kind of generic intrinsic gender war. Which to me, and I could have mis read her, implied the "demonic male" meme that is frankly rather tired. It's about power of nations, resources, and entire peoples.

To just say it's about "power and hate" is way too simple. To just say it's about the schizms of post colonial whatever is just too simple.

The fact is that rape is being used methodically as a tool to crush cultures at the root level of the family. It is not just men against women (as you said men are raped, right?). It is tribe against tribe. These men that rape and kill and mutilate the women of rival ethnicities often have women at home they DO respect - that they DO see as humans. They have been able to dehumanize these victims becuase of racist and ethnic beliefs.

JUST like we do in Iraq.

And it is ethnic rivalry and resources that are are at the roots of these wars. Just like OUR war in Iraq.

In Africa, as you also noted, it was ethnic divisions that the colonial powers exploited. And those divisions STILL exist. And they STILL matter. They are STILL being exploited by the people there because now there is a motive to do so. Resources.

On top of that you have these resource issues (IE: wealth) motivating the leaders of these factions to employ such sick and brutal war making.

I may be reading some of these other comments in a rather over defensive light but when I read "it's becuase of colonial" this and "it's about how men treat women" my gut reaction is jto interpret that as just well-intended but simplistic PC code for: Blame the white man.

And that doesn't really solve much.
posted by tkchrist at 3:53 PM on October 9, 2007


LOL tkchrist, you can call me Sis. :)

Yeah, those nasty white men, it's all their fault, everything.

Kidding aside, invaders, rapists, imperialists have come in all colors and stripes for millennia.

I do agree with you that rape is being used as a conscious war strategy. But is it's use or effect culture crushing or is it an aspect of the savagery of war, of one group seeking dominance over another by any means possible?

If a person from Califonia went to Colorado and raped somebody in Colorado, they wouldn't be creating a Californian.

If a baby is born in the province of Serbia, then it's Serbian. If it's born in Bosnia, by dint of geography then it's Bosnian.

Former Yugoslavians had hundreds of years of Hatfield-McCoy feuding behind them, on a horrendous scale (Ustaše-Chetnik massacres etc).

There was/is a lot of shame about the vestiges of the Muslim Ottoman Empire's conversion of Orthodox Christian Yugoslavians to Muslims, who became eventually located mostly in Bosnia. But over the centuries many Yugoslavians had intermarried, Croatians in the north, marrying Serbians in the South East, Bosnians in the middle of the country marrying Slovenians in the North East.

So it's not like the Yugoslavians of the North and the Yugoslavians of the South were not of the same ethnicity, same race, same language, same genealogy. They were basically all Yugoslavians just some Christian and some Muslim. So the raping of a Muslim by a Christian of the same country doesn't seem like they would be planting genetically different seeds but religious revenge raping. It's not like a baby is born the religion of the rapist.

Wouldn't that be like a white American Republican from Texas raping a white American Democrat from Texas and thinking the baby would then be Republican?

Reading up on ethnic cleansing on Wikipedia, I think the term is synonymous with conquer. Both rape and ethnic cleansing are about overpowering and domination.
posted by nickyskye at 9:44 PM on October 9, 2007


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