And you think we have injustice here
Blogger’s note: contents of this post might be a little disturbing, so approach with caution.
Lately, I’ve been a bit convicted about the small amount of time I spend talking about important things. God has blessed me with a certain amount of freedom and I haven’t taken advantage of it. I haven’t been a good steward of those blessings. I live in a country where I can dissent (well…) and talk about how much I dislike our government and how we’re aiding and abetting other countries in their poor treatment of their citizens. How much time do I spend talking about my own stupid boring lame life on this blog? Way, way too much.
So this is my shoddy attempt to make things a little more intelligent around here. I warn you though, I’m working off two migraines right now, so I can’t guarantee any brilliance on my part. Mostly I’m going to give you some links and then maybe I’ll rant about some things.
Tonight’s topic of conversation is Darfur, Sudan and violence against women (girls, babies, etc.) around the refugee and IDP (internally displaced persons) camps, in villages, and anywhere else these victims might find themselves. What I’m linking to tonight is a summary and report released by Human Rights Watch on the past five years in Darfur. I’ve barely skimmed the summary and I haven’t even begun to think about the 44-page report but I can give you some brief background on the situation.
Civil war isn’t new to this area of Sudan. It has been ongoing for over 20 years but in the past 5 or 6 years, the violence has escalated to the point of several governments, ours included, labeling it a genocide – an ethnic cleansing (think the Holocaust, Rwanda in 1994, Armenia in 1915, and Bosnia/Herzegovina in 1995). The Janjaweed, a government-sponsored militia are trying to “cleanse” the area of the ethnic Africans in the area. Following the Janjaweed link will give you far more information than my brain is able to handle at the moment. And I stand corrected, our government is the only government to declare this a genocide (Rwanda all over again, over a longer span of time and a little more iffy because yikes, Sudan has a lot of oil, which brings up the issue of people boycotting the Olympics [I’m one of them*] because China has some pretty gruesome ties to the Sudanese government and a truly shocking human rights record).
So back to this report and my point. Rape has always been tied to war and conflicts and perhaps now with the far-reaching eyes and ears of the internet and rogue, freelance reporters, we are learning the true scale of these attacks. Some of the more shocking stories from Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (I’d have to do more research before I called it a genocide but it’s truly ugly) are from the women who have been brutally raped by soldiers (who use whatever instruments they find lying around — knives, loaded guns that sometimes fire, broom handles, broken bottles, sons, fathers, grandfathers, brothers). Some of these women are unable to walk again. Many of them die before they can obtain the medical assistance they require. Some of the women raped aren’t women at all but little girls…toddlers. Babies. Innocent, harmless babies.
In Darfur, the rebels (or just men, in general), lurk around outside the camps and when the women leave to get firewood, they attack. These women aren’t safe in the camps, either. UN (United Nations) and AU (African Union) forces are vastly understaffed and poorly equipped to handle camps containing upwards of 200,000 people. Time and time again, these peacekeeping officials are attacked trying to keep these refugees and IDPs safe. The Janjaweed operates with a scorched earth policy and they don’t stop when they see the white Jeeps with the big, black UN stenciled on the side.
For more information, including what you can do to help, please see HRW’s site on Darfur, along with Save Darfur’s website. The link to the summary from HRW is here and the link to the report is here.
*I also fully support peaceful protests of the Olympic torch no matter where it is, be it the U.S. or abroad, so if you’re thinking of going out there and getting violent, please don’t. It’s ugly. You can get your point across without being a giant asshole.