Angelina Jolie has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to try and stop sexual violence in war zones. The actress, who is also a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, told members it was “their responsibility” to act. She said: “Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity.”

"It is inflicted intentionally to destroy the woman, the family and the community. It ruins lives and fuels conflict.

The United Nations charter is clear. You, the Security Council, have primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

After Angelina spoke, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution recognising that rape can exacerbate conflicts and delay peace. (Report by Sarah Johnston).

Angelina Jolie urges UN to end rape in war zones

It took a video going “viral” of a Libyan woman being dragged from a Tripoli hotel — shouting that she’d been raped for two days by 15 men — to put a face and name to a weapon of war that dates back at least to the founding of ancient Rome.

Defying social norms that can turn rape victims into outcasts, Iman al-Obeidi went public with her story. Her allegations of torture at the hands of soldiers loyal to Muammar Qaddafi spread fast via Facebook and Twitter.

“Iman is publicly hailed as a hero in Benghazi, and there are discussions about changing attitudes,” Arafat Jamal, the United Nations refugee agency’s co-coordinator for Libya, said in an interview from Benghazi.

The worldwide attention given to Obeidi’s plight helped secure the 29-year-old law graduate safe passage to Romania and shine a spotlight on a horror that dates back to the earliest armies and continues in war zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

…The one-year-old United Nations women’s agency, UN Women, unveils today its first report drawing attention to sexual violence against women as the International Criminal Court investigates allegations of mass rapes in Libya.

“Very significant advances in international law in the past two decades have, for the first time, made it possible to redress sexual violence crimes,” according to 165-page report by the agency led by former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. “However, prosecutions are rare.”

Read more…

Rape Culture

Rape culture is rape being used as a weapon, a tool of war and genocide and oppression. Rape culture is rape being used as a corrective to “cure” queer women. Rape culture is a militarized culture and “the natural product of all wars, everywhere, at all times, in all forms.”

Rape culture is 1 in 33 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (”I’ll make you my bitch”). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part of male-exclusive bonding. Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.

Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

Rape culture is victim-blaming. Rape culture is a judge blaming a child for her own rape. Rape culture is a minister blaming his child victims. Rape culture is accusing a child of enjoying being held hostage, raped, and tortured. Rape culture is spending enormous amounts of time finding any reason at all that a victim can be blamed for his or her own rape.

[TW: hatred of women/misogyny, rape culture]
In domestic violence men humiliate their companions in various ways for a long time; calling them ‘whores’ often represents the preliminary to physical and sexual violence. Since they are ‘whores’, you can do what you want with them, they deserve beating, sexual violence and more. In fact, as we have already seen, prostitutes are considered socially less than human (Baldwin, 1992). The same process may occur during rape: the woman is a ‘whore’, ‘bitch’, ‘cunt’ and you can do what you want with her. Then torturing her and the expressions of suffering and agony therefore confirm that the victim was contemptible and deserved what was inflicted on her (Brownmiller, 1975). Particularly cruel practices observed during war or ethnic rape, such as raping a woman in front of her husband or after killing him in front of her or forcing her to lie on his body (Sideris, 2003), seem to pursue the same ends. At the end of the dehumanising process, moral and social codes no longer apply to the victims: killing them becomes the right thing to do (Staub, 1999).

Romito, Patricia. “A Deafening Silence: Hidden Violence Against Women.” The Policy Press; University of Bristol, 2008. (p. 59)

“Three armed men in government uniform came into the camp. The strongest one shone a powerful torch in my eyes, he strangled me and then raped me in front of my crying kids,” she said.

Mohamed, a widow, said she waited for sunrise before making her way to a nearby clinic only to be told there were no doctors.

“Later the camp leaders brought me some painkillers. Now I’m OK but I do not know what diseases I caught from the rape. I have nowhere to go for a check-up,” Mohamed said. “We live in these makeshift shelters. We have no aid agency or government to protect us at night. We are at God’s mercy.”

Isak also said rape was common in her camp.

“They rape even mothers at gunpoint at night — and we are threatened to death should we disclose it,” she said. “The makeshift shelters have no lockable doors, so these men just come in at night and lie on you.”

Read more…

Rape as a Weapon of War: Re-Edited

(Thanks Hillbawb)

It goes without saying that rape is a prevalent issue in our society. If we extend our view to encompass not just our own societies, but the globe, we see that rape is not just an issue, but an epidemic. Many are at least familiar with the idea of rape in our culture thanks to Hollywood cinema and shows such as “Law and Order: SVU”: A woman or child is sought after sexually for one reason or another and is obtained; that is to say, raped. Sometimes the victims survive, just like in real life, and these shows can depict what a woman or child in America must face as being the victim of rape.

However, a possibility that cannot be captured by television for its audience is that of rape as a weapon of war. It is something we are unaccustomed to think about in our society, but looking at many other regions in the world, such as the war-torn Congo nation in Africa, rape as a weapon of war is a harsh reality, far too real to even begin to imagine. The Congo is often dubbed “the rape capital of the world” and Michael Van Rooyen, the director of Harvard's Humanitarian Initiative and an emergency physician with experience in disaster zones, says it appears that “rape is becoming part of the culture” in the Congo, if it is not already.

Women in the Congo were seen as something akin to second class citizens long before the war started. Their place was behind their man; the Congolese Family Code required women to obey their husbands, the recognized head of household, even if it is the woman who is the only supporter of the family. However, it has long been a custom imbedded in the society there that women are not as important as men; a woman’s status relies on that of her husbands and boys are considered to be more valuable when they are educated than their educated female counterparts.

This ideal has a huge impact for rape victims and their families. The women and children who survive this horrible atrocity are often ostracized by their family, kin and even communities during their darkest hour when they need them most, all due to the cultural stigma perception of rape in the Congo. Those who survive the encounter often have no family to return home to, and those that do have family to return to are often ignored and shunned by their husbands and family members. If a woman is raped, it reflects on the husband and how he is not strong enough to protect her, thusly lowering his status in society. The social stigma of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS, are often added burdens that are pressed onto rape victims, even if they do not have those issues.  The victims are also seen as broken or damaged goods, no longer suitable to be part of the family and would just bring shame to them if the women stay there.

What makes matters worse here is that the perpetrators of rape are on both sides of the war in the Congo. The Soldiers of President Kabila, the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD) and their combatants, consisting of the Burundian armed groups and rebel Rwandans as well as plain individuals or bandits, all use rape in wartime to achieve a specific mean. Rebels use rape to control villagers with fear, demoralize the population, since most would rather die than be raped, or just to punish those who support the government. Another trick they are taught is that they can also rape women since it is a spoil of war and they earned it, much like they mythos The Rape of the Sabine Women. This tactic is encouraged since it is believed that it will help “achieve success”.

On the other side of the coin, the soldiers rape to discourage female rebel sympathizers to try and seduce info from soldiers. What’s worse about this specific scenario (other than they protectors becoming the predators) is that many of these soldiers are taught that raping women is okay, part of their civic duty. That they need to let off steam or just to improve their morale if they are stationed away from their wives and raping a woman in the local area will do that for them. Not to mention the bandits/individuals take advantage of the situation, using the chaos to rape as they see fit. All of this combined with many other factors can make it very difficult to try and achieve justice for the victims of rape, if they even decide to step forward.

More often than not, many women keep the knowledge of their rape a secret if they can. Many of the rapists threaten to kill them if they try to come forward or other such attempts of reporting the crime. However, coming forwards isn’t just overcoming the fear of a looming threat, it’s also admitting that you were raped, and thusly you would have to go through the social exile and suffer the stigma that comes along with that admission.

Many won’t even step forward for medical help or to get tested and treated for STDs and the like. Those that are mutilated and raped with guns or sticks and in almost all cases the victims are beaten before they are raped and need medical attention, let alone a rape kit or testing for STDs. But if they do go to clinics that help rape survivors, they will be seen as impure and shameful by their community and they are often terrified of the consequences of coming out and saying they were raped. More often than not, their attackers were covered or used fake names or were a part of the government itself. How are they going to get justice when those who are supposed to enforce the rules are the ones who are raping them? Those that were reported and tried were often let off the hook, paying off judges for their innocence. There’s too much corruption for there to be even an attempt for justice and that’s how many victims feel. They see this happen and figure there is nothing they can do to change their fate.

However, outside help from humanitarians are trying to change this- in fact, they are trying to change the way that rape is seen in the Congo and in other areas with similar ideological issues. For example, a group that seems to be doing rather well is the Washington based Women for Women International is doing a lot of groundbreaking work with the male leaders in that society to see that women play a vital role in society and then men must learn to stop rape before it happens. The WFW has expanded its Men’s Leadership Program and the program director Cyprien Walupakah gave a speech to many of the leaders in the community about how sexual abuse is anything that is against a woman’s will and how “if men are not involved, it will not change” and that it’s a step by step process and whether it has an impact has yet to be seen.

Nonetheless, even if this doesn’t quite have the impact that Walupakah hopes for, he is at least pleased with the fact that if the leaders opinions have been changed that “we can really form a new generation,” one that sees how women are vital components to having a family and how this horrific ordeal isn’t their fault and they should not be shunned for it. Hopefully we can get everyone to see the idea that we should not be teaching our children to “not get raped” but to “not rape”.

This principle has come from a huge campaign for human rights, specifically that for females, in the United States, Canada and even some countries in the Middle East. Recently, there has been a lot of media attention placed on “Slut Walks” which were walks to empower rape victims and to make aware the rape culture we have created. Many protestors hold up signs saying “my dress is not a yes” or “my clothing does not equal my consent” since even here in the States a popular misconception is that the victim was “asking for it” by the way she dressed. Rape is defined as having intercourse without the woman’s consent or against her will. No woman is ever asked to be raped.

Hopefully the Congolese, Sudanese, Rwandan, and many other cultures including our own that hold this ideal that rape is “okay”, will see that, in fact, it is not. Hopefully those in the Congo area will see that they shouldn’t just ignore rape victims and let it run rampart to become part of the culture and destroy the ones they love. Hopefully they will see rape for what it really is; not as a shameful thing you did, but as a horrible crime committed against you. And, hopefully, this won’t be a hope, but a reality.     

A ma mère

I attended an event called “Say no to violence against women” today. It was uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Hopeful and sickening. Broken and resilient.

Did you know that since 1994, 8 million women have been systematically raped in Congo? And that the rape spans from 8-month old babies to 84 year old women to men? Women are sometimes raped in front of their husbands and children, but then they are subsequently ostracized and rejected by their family.

This is an excerpt from  a poem that Guinean poet Camara Laye wrote, dedicated to his mother:

A ma mère

Femme noire, femme africaine, ô toi ma mère je pense à toi…

Ô Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui me
portas sur le dos, toi qui m’allaitas,
toi qui gouvernas mes premiers pas,
toi qui la première m’ouvris les yeux
aux prodiges de la terre, je pense à toi…

Femme des champs, femme des rivières, femme du grand fleuve,
ô toi, ma mère, je pense à toi…

Ô toi Dâman, ô ma mère, toi qui
essuyais mes larmes, toi qui me
réjouissais le coeur, toi qui,
patiemment supportais mes caprices,
comme j’aimerais encore être près de toi, être enfant près de toi…

(an English translation by Deborah Weagel, University of New Mexico)

Black woman, African woman, O mother, I think of you …
O Dâman, O mother,
who carried me on your back, who nursed me,
who governed by first steps,
who opened my eyes to the beauties of the world, I think of you …

Woman of the fields, woman of the rivers, woman of the great river, O
mother, I think of you …

O Dâman, O mother, who wiped my tears,
who cheered up my heart,
who patiently dealt with my caprices,
how I would love to still be near you.

…The vicious war that claimed the lives of more than 5 million people in Congo’s eastern flank might be officially over but the violence continues, particularly when it comes to women. During the worst years of the conflict, armed groups used sexual violence as a weapon but now rape perpetrated by civilians accounts for a large percentage of cases. Doctors and NGOs fear it has almost settled into something approaching a norm in a society ravaged by war.

A study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that 1,152 women are raped every day in Congo, a rate equal to 48 per hour. That rate is 26 times more than the previous estimate of 16,000 rapes reported in one year by the UN.

The highest frequency of rape was found in North Kivu, Fazili’s home province and the area most affected by the conflict, where 67 women per 1,000 had been raped at least once.

“The message is important and clear: rape in (Congo) has metastasised amid a climate of impunity, and has emerged as one of the great human crises of our time,” said Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

There are no precise figures relating to the number of children born from these rapes, but they are thought to number in the thousands. Abortion is illegal in Congo, so the women have little choice but to carry the pregnancy to full term.

Read more…

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."

Read more…

The Hague, Netherlands (CNN) — Security forces in Libya are allegedly using sexual enhancement drugs as a “machete” and gang-raping women they stop at checkpoints, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo told CNN Monday that the court in The Hague will investigate allegations of institutionalized rape in the war-torn country.

"There are rapes. The issue is who organized them," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told CNN’s Nic Robertson. "They were committed in some police barracks. Were the policemen prosecuted? What happened?" he asked.

Moreno-Ocampo said the criminal court has information about women who were stopped at checkpoints and, because they were carrying the flag of the rebels, were taken by police and gang raped.

He also said there were reports of the use of male sexual enhancement drugs, which he called a “tool of massive rape.”

"There’s some information with Viagra. So, it’s like a machete," he said. "It’s new. Viagra is a tool of massive rape.

"So we are investigating. We are not ready to present the case yet, but I hope in the coming month, we’ll add charges or review the charges for rapes."

Read more…

My big research paper this semester?

I met with my professor for the class the research paper is for, and after hashing out some of my ideas and examining our mutual fascination with violence and governance, it looks like I’m going to be focusing my paper on rape as a weapon of war. (We started talking about violence in DRC, and we eventually focused in on that.)

In my research process, I might need to narrow this down, but specifically I’ll be looking at the Democratic Republic of Congo and things such as the ineffectiveness of the international community and the drive behind gender violence in war.

If any of you have any good books, articles, etc. that you would recommend I check out in my research, please let me know!

Chapter One: Meeting

Part One: Arrival

"I barely knew every hallway in Normandy and I was on the train to Paris! I was so anxious, so motivated! I started wondering who our leader was and what the other members looked like. I knew only one name, an hour and a meeting place: Jean-Pierre Lyon, 2PM, the Government Halls. I wish I could go back in time… But then I would have never met them." - Marie Madeleine

After the Nuclear War, those who retreated into the Metro survived with what little food and water they brought from the surface. Radiation leaked to several tunnels, leading to more deaths and subsequent sealing of those areas. However, a few years later, governments came out of hiding, pursuing to rebuild humanity in the only place they could: the Metro. Engineers began working with the inhabitants of the tunnels to repair systems and clear debris from tunnels and halls. While most of the technological development was lost, the crucial pieces had been perserved by those who lived in the shelters and even some who lived in the Metro. The result was the restart of many Metro lines, allowing people to move around with more ease and safety. Paris was the center of it all. It still is.

A petite woman, clearly in her early thirties, hopped off the carriage onto the platform below. She was wearing hiking pants and a white winter jacket with a long sleeved black shirt under it. With her long, bright brown hair tied in a ponytail, one could observe the delicate lines of her skin and eyebrows. Her gaze burned blue, admiring the repaired architecture and design. Classic pillars of an era unrecognizable to the woman divided the platforms in two, one for each line of the Metro. The station itself was full of life. Traders and other sorts of travellers rushed to the trains in hot pursuit of life, of adventure. The woman had a wide grin on her face. All the anxiety was still there, manifesting itself with awe.

Not wanting to delay herself further, the woman grabbed her rucksack and carried it on her back. She had only brought the essential: some food for the journey to Paris, currency from Normandy and clothing, lots of clothing. She walked towards the information booth and asked for directions. The Government Halls were just outside the station. She could breathe easy as she wouldn’t be late at all. Maybe she would have time for some sight-seeing before the scheduled meeting. The woman walked outside the station and was even more surprised than before.
Bright lights levelled the darkness, keeping it away from Paris. The city itself was an ongoing project, a relic of the past manifested in smaller size in the future. Even the Eiffel Tower was present, albeit much smaller. Its purpose was to remember those who lived and visisted Paris that art, in all sizes, should never be forgotten. A strong message. Simple and straight. The most amazing part was the architecture. Paris’ construction began after the French Government returned. One could say it began almost immediately after its return. Engineers from the shelters were escorted to perform wonders, combining efforts with locals to expand their new home, an underground lair. The houses have several levels and stretch out to the ceiling of the artificial cave, which is already vast itself. The underground version of appartment buildings. The streets were brimming with people. Vendors welcomed weary travellers and business was flying back and forth, hitting the woman from every direction with discounts, cheap places to stay, the best food in town… She excused herself politely and let the rabid dogs and hyenas hunt for the next prey.

“I remember walking down the Golden Fields… They are so beautiful. It’s amazing how the Earth can give us such a wonderful sight. The fresh green grass crawling on our barefoot skin. The look on the faces of the locals, thinking I was crazy for doing that…” - Marie giggles gently - “But then I saw them arriving at the Halls. I put on my boots and ran towards them, eager to start, so anxious to travel far, far away…” - Marie Madeleine

anonymous said:

actual quote from vikings: "being gay is bad. unless its male-on-male rape being used as a weapon of war. which doesnt count as being gay, its just a way of proving how manly and cool you are to your viking pals, who you aren't allowed to be gay for no matter how handsome they are."

do you have a point, viking faggot anon?

this one girl who is a senior now is doing her project on the use of rape as a weapon in war. i she wasn’t so i could do that