When Mass Rape Becomes the Norm

In a his column for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff recently shed light on the atrocities that are – right now, at this very moment – being committed in the African nation of Liberia:

11344In modern times, we’ve seen mass rape as an element of warfare in Congo, Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Liberia — but the lesson here in Liberia in West Africa is that even when the fighting ends, the rape continues. And that brings us to Jackie, a lovely 7-year-old with tight braids and watchful eyes. Jackie is too young to remember the 14-year civil war in Liberia, from 1989 to 2003, when as many as three-fourths of women were raped… Yet somehow mass rape survived the end of the war; it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement. So the security guard at Jackie’s school, a man in his 50s, took the little girl to the beach where, she said, he stripped her and raped her. Finally, he ran off as she lay bleeding and sobbing on the sand. “I couldn’t walk well, so they took me to hospital,” Jackie told me. It was worse than that: She was hemorrhaging, and the hospital couldn’t stop it… Of course, children are raped everywhere, but what is happening in Liberia is different. The war seems to have shattered norms and trained some men to think that when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.

Sheril Kirshenbaum on Discover Magazine: Today begins a very important initiative called “Silence Is The Enemy” to help a generation of young women half a world away. Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world… There are many ways to contribute: Write and email members of Congress, speak at community meetings, encourage others to get involved, or donate to our chosen charity (Doctors Without Borders)… We want to make sure elected officials at multiple levels realize this is a global issue that matters to a large voting constituency!

Jessica Palmer on Bioephemera: Of course, sexual violence is not limited to Liberia. According to the United Nations, between a quarter and a half a million women were raped during Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. Currently, there are related situations in Congo and in Darfur, where sexual violence against women has become routine and systematic… Congress may be indicating a readiness to act on these issues. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing several weeks ago on “Confronting Rape and Other Forms of Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones.” (Testimony and video can be found here.)

To this important movement The Progressive Puppy adds its small bark.

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