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Old 01-07-2011, 10:37 AM   #1
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Nothing Changes On New Year's Day

(CNN) -- Dozens of women were raped in a coordinated attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo on New Year's Day, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday.

The humanitarian agency said 33 women were raped in Fizi, South Kivu, in the eastern part of the war-torn country.

"Women had been restrained with ropes or beaten unconscious with the butt of a gun before being attacked, some in front of their children," said Annemarie Loof, an official with the agency, commonly known by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

"Up to four armed men were involved at a time and homes and shops were looted," she said in a statement.

Rape is a frequent weapon of war in Congo, the United Nations says.

It has named the Democratic Republic of Congo the "rape capital of the world," with 15,000 women raped in eastern Congo in 2009. The attacks occurred in parts of the country where armed rebel groups moved into areas considered to be pro-government but lacking in army or police protection, according to the United Nations.

Many rape survivors took to the streets in October to speak out against sexual violence.

"My heart is in pain. Why are you raping me?" sang the rape victims, many of whom left hospital beds to join the march in eastern Congo.

A U.N. report in September slammed Congo's security forces for failing prevent a wave of mass rapes over several days last summer.

The preliminary report confirmed the rape of at least 303 civilians between July 30 and August 2 in the Walikale region of Congo's North Kivu province.

And the rapes have clearly not stopped, Medecins Sans Frontieres said.

"MSF is extremely concerned about the current situation in and around Fizi," Loof said Thursday. "People are fleeing the area fearing further violent attacks."

The agency provided medical and psychosocial care for 5,600 rape victims in North and South Kivu in 2009, it said.
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Old 01-07-2011, 12:23 PM   #2
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:48 PM   #3
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Christ...

I honestly don't know what to say beyond that. Those poor women.

Angela
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:29 PM   #4
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I bet the number is far higher than reported
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:29 PM   #5
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God, it never stops.
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Old 01-10-2011, 03:21 AM   #6
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One can only hope and pray that enough men and women of conscience somehow gain influence on the popular culture.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:51 PM   #7
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Strange it is, that this tragic news never makes it to the mainstream media.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:20 PM   #8
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~elevation
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post
Strange it is, that this tragic news never makes it to the mainstream media.
Something I can wholeheartedly agree with you on. Yes. This desperately needs more attention.

Angela
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:46 PM   #10
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(AP) KINSHASA, Congo — A former rebel commander integrated as a colonel into the Congolese army has been arrested in the rapes of dozens of women in volatile eastern Congo on New Year's Day, the United Nations reported Wednesday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid also reported that the number of people who have come forward to report being raped has risen to 50, from 13 a week ago. That number could rise as more survivors emerge from the bush to which they fled.

Lt. Col. Kibibi Mutware has been identified by some victims and witnesses as the commander of the punitive mass rapes against residents of Fizi town. Seven other soldiers were also arrested.

The incident started after one of his soldiers was killed in a dispute over a woman, according to the U.N. The area long has been a hotbed of rivalry between the majority Babembe people and so-called Banyamulenge of Rwandan origin or Congolese belonging to the Tutsi tribe.

The soldiers' involvement is the latest outrage in the Central African nation's epidemic of rape, which has become a weapon of war used to break down family and community structures. Such attacks also drive residents from areas that fighters — both in the army and from the many rebel groups operating in the east — want to use for mining, which provides income and fuels the conflict.

Murwana was identified as a former commander in the Tutsi-led CNDP rebel movement that swept across large swaths of eastern Congo at the end of 2008 until a peace agreement was signed in January 2009. The rebels were speedily integrated into a national army that has become a conglomeration of numerous rebel groups and militias along with mutinous soldiers. Congo endured back-to-back civil and regional wars that erupted in the aftermath of neighboring Rwanda's 1994 genocide and ended in 2002.
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:48 PM   #11
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Good. If it is indeed proven he was part of this, I hope they throw his ass in jail.

Glad to hear more women are feeling brave enough to come forward and report what happened to them, too. Here's hoping their testimony will be helpful in rounding up all who did this and giving them the punishment they deserve.

There should be some sort of shelter or gathering place for these women, too, if there isn't already, so that they can lean on each other and help each other through all the trauma they've experienced.

Angela
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:46 PM   #12
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It seems to be true sadly.
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Old 02-22-2011, 02:31 PM   #13
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Finally!

Quote:
Congo colonel gets 20 years after rape trial

By MICHELLE FAUL
The Associated Press
Monday, February 21, 2011; 7:01 PM

BARAKA, Congo -- One by one, the rape survivors relived their attacks for a panel of judges: A newly married bride flung her torn, bloodied clothing onto the courtroom floor. A mother of six dropped to her knees, raised her arms to heaven and cried out for peace.

Nearly 50 women poured out their stories in a wave of anguish that ended Monday with the conviction of an army colonel for crimes against humanity - a landmark verdict in this Central African country where thousands are believed to be raped each year by soldiers and militia groups who often go unpunished.

It was the first time a commanding officer had been tried in such an attack.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Lt. Col. Mutuare Daniel Kibibi, who was accused of ordering his troops on New Year's Day to attack the village of Fizi, a sprawling community 20 miles (35 kilometers) south of Baraka on an escarpment of mountains covered in banana trees.

Military prosecutor Col. Laurent Mutata Luaba said the men "behaved like wild beasts," terrorizing defenseless civilians they had orders to protect.

Doctors later treated 62 women for rape. One woman testified that Kibibi himself raped her for 40 minutes.

Kibibi and the 10 of his men who stood trial with him were the only ones identified after the rampage.

As the defendants were being led away in handcuffs, hundreds of people jeered at them, booed and shook their fists. Some shouted, "Kibibi! You thought you could get away with this! Now you are going to jail!" and "You must pay for your crimes!"

Kibibi, 46, who is married with eight children, was convicted of four counts of crimes against humanity but will serve no more than 20 years in prison.

Kibibi denies all the charges and says the testimony by his bodyguards was part of a plot to denigrate him. Defense attorney Alfred Maisha described his client as a "valiant hero" who had served in the army since 1984 and had risked his life many times in the defense of the country.

Maisha said many of the troops under Kibibi's command were poorly trained and included former members of rebel and militia groups.

Witnesses said the soldiers descended in a fury upon the village, where residents had stoned a soldier to death who had been involved in an altercation with a local shop owner.

The soldiers smashed down doors and went house-to-house, pillaging, beating and raping for an entire night, from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day, witnesses said.

Three of Kibibi's officers received the same sentences, and five others got lesser sentences. One man was acquitted and another will be tried in juvenile court.

But even as the men were sent away, women feared that some attackers had escaped justice.

"Most of the rapists are still right here in our village," one woman said as she nursed her baby. "If we go to the river for water, we get raped. If we go to the fields for food, we get raped. If we go to the market to sell our goods, we get raped.

"Our lives are filled with danger," she said. "There is no peace."

Rape has long been used as a brutal weapon of war in eastern Congo, which suffered back-to-back civil wars starting in the late 1990s. The eastern portion of the country is still brutalized by armed groups.

At least 8,300 rapes were reported in 2009 alone, and aid workers say the true toll is much higher. The victims have included a month-old baby boy and elderly women. Even the biggest U.N. peacekeeping force in the world of 18,000 troops has been unable to end the violence.

During the trial, aid groups said new reports of rapes were emerging, this time women believed to have been attacked by Rwandan Hutu rebels.

Monday's verdict came only after prosecutors and lawyers were ferried to this remote corner of eastern Congo, which is accessible from the provincial capital only by helicopter or a nearly nine-hour road journey.

The mobile court was paid for by George Soros' Open Society Initiative and aided by several other agencies, including the American Bar Association, Lawyers Without Borders and the U.N. Mission to Congo.

Activists said they hoped the verdict would serve as a warning to others who expect to attack civilians with impunity.

"If word about the court is spread around the country, it could have an enormous impact on deterring future crimes, now that the rule of law is finally being enforced domestically, to at least some extent," said Kelly D. Askin of Open Society Justice Initiative.

The total number of victims will never be known. The women who testified in court were identified only as Female 1 to Female 49 out of fear for their security and efforts to reduce the social stigma associated with rape.

The remembered horrors piled up over four days of agonizing testimony. A 35-year-old woman detailed how she was beaten with rifle butts and fists before five soldiers threw her to the ground, tore off her clothes and took turns raping her, even as she vomited, urinated and defecated.

The soldiers took all the money she had been saving for more than a year - 60,000 Congolese francs ($650).

A white-haired grandmother described being beaten up and raped by 12 soldiers in front of her husband and children.

Women testified that they later spent up to three weeks hiding in the nearby forest with their children, building little grass huts and foraging for berries and roots instead of returning to Fizi.

Their statements were then recounted in open court where hundreds of people, mainly men and boys, gathered under a burning sun.

Some survivors spoke so softly it was hard to hear them over the sniffling and whimpers of babies and the occasional drumming of an equatorial thunderstorm on the tin roof.

The other victims would not testify, fearful they might be shunned by their husbands and community or be targeted for reprisals by the military.

Others are still coming forward, including one elderly victim who only emerged Sunday from the forest with a broken rib. Her face remained swollen out of shape seven weeks later.

The 49 women who testified are to receive up to $10,000 each in compensation from the government - double the amount given to victims in previous cases.

Unspecified other damages must be paid for victims' "humiliation, degradation of their health, social stigmatization, risk of divorce, and possibility of HIV," presiding judge Col. Fredy Mukendi ordered.

Many complained that the sentences were not harsh enough.

"We are happy that this trial has been held, but we are not happy with the result," said Oscar Muzaliwa, 26. "The sentences are too low. (They) should be put to death for what they did."

Congo colonel gets 20 years after rape trial
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:14 AM   #14
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20 years? At least it's something
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:53 PM   #15
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New York Times, Feb. 25
Quote:
More than 40 people, including men, women and children, have been raped in the past two weeks in eastern Congo in roughly the same area as a series of rapes earlier this year, United Nations officials said on Friday. On two separate occasions, the victims were coming back from the market in large groups when they were attacked, aid workers said, and the most likely culprits were rebel forces hiding out in the thickly forested hills of the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Rape continues to be a plague, a pandemic, which risks spreading across the D.R.C.,” said Maurizio Giuliano, a United Nations spokesman in Congo. “It is used by belligerent parties against civilians, as a weapon of war. Most of the rapes are committed by opposition groups, and while we call on all to respect civilians, only an end to the conflict can realistically end their plight.”

United Nations officials have called eastern Congo the worst place in the world in terms of sexual violence because of the hundreds of thousands of people who have been sexually assaulted there in recent years. Most of the victims were women and girls, although there appears to be an increasing number of rapes of men and boys.
Lara Stemple, a professor at UCLA and an expert on rape in human rights law, has an op-ed in today's NYT on the consequences of the routine invisibility of male-on-male sexual assaults whenever rape as a weapon of war is discussed:
Quote:
...Yet there are thousands of similar cases, less well publicized but well documented by researchers, in places as varied as Chile, Greece and Iran. The United Nations reported that out of 5000 male concentration camp detainees held near Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict, 80% acknowledged having been abused sexually. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners told researchers they had experienced sexual torture.

Rape has long been a way to humiliate, traumatize and silence the enemy. For many of the same reasons that combatants assault women and girls, they also rape men and boys. Nevertheless, international legal documents routinely reflect the assumption that sexual violence happens only to women and girls. There are dozens of references to “violence against women”—defined to include sexual violence—in United Nations human rights resolutions, treaties and agreements, but most don’t mention sexual violence against men.

Ignoring male rape has a number of consequences. For one, it not only neglects men and boys, it also harms women and girls by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates “female” with “victim,” thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered. In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability. Such hyper-masculine ideals encourage aggressive behavior in men that is dangerous for the women and girls with whom they share their lives.


Sex-specific stereotypes also distort the international community’s response. Women who have suffered rape in conflict have likely endured non-sexual trauma as well. But when they are treated as “rape victims,” their other injuries get minimized. Conversely, when men have experienced sexual abuse and are treated solely as “torture victims,” we ignore the sexual component of their suffering. Indeed, doctors and emergency aid workers are rarely trained to recognize the physical signs of male rape or to provide counseling to its victims. Our failure to acknowledge male rape leaves it in the shadows, compounding the humiliation that survivors experience. For instance, the majority of Tamil males in Sri Lanka who were sexually assaulted during that country’s long civil war did not report it to the authorities at the time, later explaining that they were simply too ashamed.

...The International Criminal Court, nearly all American states and many countries use a sex-neutral definition of sexual assault. The United Nations and the White House must likewise move beyond the shortcomings of Resolution 1325 and commit to ending wartime sexual violence against everyone.
Stemple's piece caught my interest partly because, after the heavily reported assault on Lara Logan a couple weeks back, numerous current and former female foreign correspondents spoke up to voice their anger and concern that women working abroad routinely decline to tell their employers about sexual harassment and assaults they encounter on the job, out of fear they won't be given foreign assignments again if they do--whereas their male colleagues can get beaten to a pulp, talk openly about it, and still continue to get foreign assignments. The point, of course, not being that harassment, rape and beatings are no big deal, but rather that the response when these things happen to women tends to be to impose new restrictions on them, as if their failure to be invulnerable was the real problem. With the ironic result that women wind up gritting their teeth, biting their tongues and forging ahead in silence, all because of an illogical assumption that men who've experienced violence showed their toughness, whereas women who've experienced it showed their weakness.


As an aside, I do think that when you're talking about a country like DR Congo, where five-and-half million people (and counting) now have died in a war so nightmarishly long that a whole generation of young people have grown up knowing nothing but war, you have to consider the scope of these atrocities--the mass rapes, the abduction and brainwashing of young boys to provide new soldiers, the infamously grisly manner of so many of the killings that take place everyday--in the context of a society that's in total breakdown, with terrifyingly large numbers of its young having no experience of community, loyalty, stability, cooperation, and all the other basic qualities of a normally functioning human society. Hence, as the UN spokesman said, "while we call on all to respect civilians, only an end to the conflict can realistically end their plight.”
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