The Collapse of the Congo
It’s estimated that over the past 15 years, war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has consumed about 5 million lives. In writing Chronicle of death ignored, the Economist reminds us that it was only with the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 that the term ‘Holocaust’ became common knowledge and currency to describe Germany’s extermination of the Jews.
Jason Stearns, author of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, says that Congo should be ranked with Germany, Russia and China as one of the great vortexes of recent human violence.
Half a million women raped, some young girls of only five raped with gunbarrels or sticks, pregnant women disembowelled. Mr Stearns has met men who routinely killed 100 people a day, “using a rope to crush their windpipes and strangle them”. He asks how you become a mass murderer and finds unthinking machismo and delirium from years of abuse, but also strategic considerations. He seeks “a rational explanation for a truly chaotic conflict” and refuses to fall back on easy answers like the wanton savagery of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. “The killers wanted to show the villagers…the consequence of any resistance. There were no limits to their revenge—they would kill the priests, rape the nuns, rip babies from their mothers’ wombs, and twist the corpses into origami figures.”
AOC has written extensively about the women of the Congo.
In this devastatingly bleak place for women, two good things happened in 2011. For the first time, Congo General Kibibi was sentenced to 20 yrs for raping women. Eight of his subordinates also received sentences between 10 and 20 years.
In 2009 CNN estimated that 200,000 women in Congo have been raped. Jason Stearns, who is widely praised for thoroughly covering this story from every angle and after endless interviews in the region where he worked for the UN, writes 500,000 women have been raped.
In February Vagina Monologue, feminist playwright lady Eve Ensler opened City of Joy Academy, saying:
“You build an army of women,” she said. “And when you have enough women in power, they take over the government and they make different decisions. You’ll see. They’ll say ‘Uh-uh, we’re not taking this any longer,’ and they’ll put an end to this rape problem fast.” via NYTimes
Key AOC articles on women of Congo