Warning: graphic post to follow
Has anyone seen the HBO documentary Rape in the Congo? It was on the other night, not sure if that was the first time it has been on.
I am not one to get sappy and cry all the time but the events depicted in this film are so horrific that my tears were flowing pretty freely. I know that rape is not uncommon in war-torn parts of Africa, but this documentary really put things in a whole new light for me.
Apparently it is mostly the Congalese army men who are doing the raping - the men who are supposed to be protecting the citizens of the Congo. Women are typically gang-raped. There were children as young as 2 and 4 mentioned and women in their 80's as well. Their husbands are either murdered in front of them or they run away to save their own lives. Husbands do not typically take back a wife who has been raped. Up to 30% of the women will be infected with HIV as a result of the rapes.
The worst part, and what I did not realize - they are severely mutilated afterwards. Guns and sticks are inserted into their vaginas and used to tear their rectal wall, tear out their uterus, or urinary bladder. One woman was held over hot coals until the entire back wall of her rectum was burned away. The "lucky" ones make it to a hospital where they may have multiple complex surgeries trying to put them back together. Most end up with permanent fistulas, dripping urine and feces for life. Some pregnant women reported being raped, and then the rapists made their children jump on their belly until they were bleeding, and then they made them drink the blood. There were images of naked bodies impaled on sticks, and with limbs chopped off with machetes.
These rapes are rarely reported because the women are afraid they will be killed, and their families will be killed as well. If a man is put in jail, for 2 or 3 dollars the guards will set him free to run away. They interviewed a couple groups of rapists, who claimed it was their right to take what they wanted if the woman said no because they were kept on duty in the woods for long periods and didn't have women around to satisfy their "needs". Some of them claimed to have drank potions that required them to rape women in order to be successful in battle.
There are people who are working to stop this but changing this behavior will require the reeducation of an entire nation regarding the value of women in society. This has been going on since about 1997. My thoughts were to execute any man who is guilty of rape/mutilation. Chopping off the penis may be a cliche but in this case it seems it would be appropriate.