UN ignored Congo rape warnings
Posted on September 2, 2010
I picked this up yesterday via Women’s eNews on Twitter, and I’m glad to see it’s now getting some coverage in the msm. Apparently the original claim that the UN did nothing to prevent or intervene in the horrendous rapes of women and children in Luvungi in the Eastern Congo a couple of weeks ago because “they didn’t know it was happening” is wrong: UN officials did in fact know what was going on, they just chose to ignore it.
The New York Times reported yesterday:
“According to an e-mail sent within United Nations agencies on July 30, as the attack was unfolding, United Nations officials knew that the rebels had infiltrated the area and that at least one woman had been raped.
“The town of Mpofi, 52 kilometers from Walikale, has just fallen into the hands of the F.D.L.R. A woman was raped there,” said the e-mail, which was sent by the United Nations’ humanitarian office in eastern Congo to several other United Nations agencies and private aid groups. “Humanitarian workers are said not to go there,” the e-mail continued.”
Now the Guardian is reporting that:
“Community leaders begged UN officials for protection days before rebels raped more than 240 villagers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they claimed yesterday.
The attacks took place over several days, with victims ranging from a month-old baby boy to a 110-year-old great-great-grandmother.
The number of reported rapes between 30 July and 4 August has grown from initial figures of 179 and now stands at 242.“
I understand Nanjala Nyabola’s argument on CiF the other day that it’s too easy to blame the UN for this atrocity, when it is in fact “the evolution of a conflict that has been ignored and allowed to fester over decades with little interest until fairly recently.” Although I would add that while it’s easy to blame the UN, the only ones who can really be blamed for the rapes are the men themselves, the ones who chose to rape.
However, I think in light of these more recent revelations it’s fair to say the UN, once again, has got a lot of explaining to do. UN forces may not be responsible for the rapes, but by the looks of it they’re certainly responsible for not doing enough to prevent them.
For more on the appalling situation for women in the Congo, the following link is well worth a click:
Eve Ensler Reads “Congo Cancer: My Cancer Is Arbitrary. Congo’s Atrocities Are Very Deliberate”.
Given the UN peace keepers in the DRC are supposedly there to protect Congolese women and girls from male sexual violence then yes I do hold the UN accountable for once again ‘turning a blind eye’ to endemic and systemic male sexual violence being committed against women and girls.
Furthermore, this latest male atrocity committed against Congolese women and girls was well planned and very well co-ordinated. It was not just a case of a group of male soldiers deciding to ‘rape a few women and girls’ but rather it was designed to destroy the societal structure by subjecting women and girls to horrific male sexual violence. The aim once again was to send a clear message to these women’s and girls’ male relatives that they are incapable of ‘protecting their women’ and to humilate them by targetting the women and girls. As always women and girls are the ones caught in the middle of men’s wars and men’s struggles for power over other men.
So yes Congolese women and girls must be asking themselves ‘just why are Un peacekeepers in our country when they refuse to help us and prevent males from raping us. ‘ Neither must we forget that the UN comprises predominantly men not women and so women’s issues as always are sidelined since men’s issues must always take centre stage. In other words male politics supercede women’s human rights not to be subjected to decades of mass male sexual violence.
Why isn’t this headline news? All the time?
‘Cause they’re not white.
Yeah, I sort of guessed that.
(ie it was a rhetorical question).
Oh I know you know; I’m just putting it out there anyway!
Interesting all the people flocking here (not) to comment on this post isn’t it? What – three of us so far?
Yes, it is interesting, isn’t it? How very U.N.-like. It’s amazing the way people’s behaviour is constantly coincidentally lining up precisely with its greater cultural context hey?
i couldn’t believe this.
i’ve been aware of what’s been going on in the congo for a while, mainly thanks to one-off special reports on C4 and i am continually horrified that this is not in the news every day.
we call the summer ‘silly season’ where the papers are packed full of stupid stories about hague sharing a hotel room with an aide and footballers shouting nonsense on twitter.
and yet all over the world we have these atrocities. this conflict has been festering for years and years, and we have not heard enough about it.
it makes me sick.
And in further developments – the number of reported cases now stands at 500
Yet some (publicity seeking) eejit somewhere in the USA threatens to burn the Koran and everyone’s got an opinion! When did Obama last condemn rape in the congo? Well I see Clinton did,
but hey they’re not planning to set fire to any books! That’s the important thing!