Stop Rape Now

War and Peace

Most of us cannot fathom what it is like to live with violence or political strife. We are governed by laws, morals and democratic rights that afford us the protection we require during times of crisis and upheaval. Though our rape statistics in North America continue to go under-reported, rape as an act of war is heavily prevalent in many regions of the world, especially Africa.
 
Women and children are always the first victims in any social or political crisis. They bear the brunt of the brutality and suffering inflicted by those who hold power--power simply meaning that one person or party has more strength or weapons in any circumstance where the opportunity presents itself. The history books do women a great disservice by not talking about what women and girls endure during times of war. In places like Guinea and Darfur, rape isn’t just something that occurs when perpetrators are granted opportunity, it's a tactic that is widely encouraged and utilized. Thousands of women, girls and even grandmothers have their bodies beaten and violated. They are sexually tortured and mutilated by various means and entire communities are left devastated. The goal is to shame women into silence and to acquire absolute power whenever people try to stand up for democracy.
 
On September 28 of this year thousands of citizens gathered to oppose the anti-democratic military junta in Guinea imposed by coup last December by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Led by the opposition, the rally was peaceful and called for democratic reforms. Suddenly, the doors and exits were all locked in the stadium and the presidential guards began their attack. Mass rape and murder ensued leaving the death toll at 157. Women of all ages had their clothes ripped off, suffered humiliating acts of unspeakable torture. Women were gang raped while other soldiers filmed on their cell phones. 1,200 people were injured and many more were suffocated to death. Flashes of these images were recorded on cell phone cameras which showed the systematic targeting of women by guards and victims trying to flee beatings and gunfire. Captain Camara refutes claims of mass rapes and blames the incident on the opposition. He also says the official death toll is only a mere 56. As if this number is acceptable.
 
Rape as a strategy of war is becoming more and more prevalent. The most effective way to conquer a nation is to destroy the women. Women are mothers and caregivers, women's contributions are vital to their families and communities and when they are attacked they can no longer function. It is heart wrenching to see the world sit by and do little else but condemn these acts of violence and murder of women. I wonder where the International Criminal Court and UN is in all of this, I wonder why it wasn’t front page headline news around the world. Unfortunately, Western and European governments seem unmotivated and disinterested in helping the vulnerable victims that are living in war torn Africa. We have a long way to go in stopping rape in our own societies but to see it used as an acceptable act of war with no recourse or justice is beyond unreasonable. UN resolutions and investigations do not go far enough.
 
With technology advances we can only be thankful that we can now know what is happening around the globe. Yet it isn’t enough to communicate these atrocities. We, individually and collectively, must be motivated to do something about these  issues. Recently there were two highly publicized gang rape cases that happened in New York and California. While these victims were being brutally attacked, witnesses stood by and did little else but watch. Passersby did not feel compelled to try to stop the attacks. Rape affects us all and more must be done to preserve justice and protect the vulnerable. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, "a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
 
The value of a life seems to count for very little these days. The women of the world are living through conditions that can only be described as grave crimes against humanity. It happened in Guinea and it happens in Afghanistan. It happens in Europe and North America. War doesn’t just affect soldiers and governments. It rips out the souls of women and renders them silent. It is time the world stopped taking a blind eye and start taking real action. Survivors of rape and war know only too well what living with scars and fears is like. It is time to Stop Rape Now.

Africa, Darfur, Guinea, Human Rights, Women's Rights