The world must act to stop this weapon of war.
Medford, Mass.; and San Diego, Calif.
Long overshadowed by conflicts in the Middle East, Darfur, Iraq, and Afghanistan, extensive, predatory terrorism – largely of a sexual nature – continues to attack the heart of Africa. The idea that the international community has a "responsibility to protect" innocent civilians must be given meaning, and nowhere is this more important than in eastern Congo. Military groups there are using rape as a devastating weapon of war.
Make no mistake: these are not isolated incidents involving rogue soldiers. This is an organized campaign of sexual terrorism – and the global community must respond forcefully.
Sexual violence haunts its victims long after the initial attack. Each act of rape humiliates its victims; emasculates men who are unable to protect them; and traumatizes victims, their families, and, in times of war, entire communities. The chronic physical conditions that rape can cause may be considered family humiliations and result in the banishment of victims from their own homes.
Rape during wars also bolsters the esprit de corps of its perpetrators and helps maintain troop levels by reducing desertions, since soldiers who become rapists may be unable to return to their family homes.
Probably no war zone in recent times has employed rape as sexual terrorism as extensively as the various military forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rebecca Feeley of the Enough Project recently noted that its sickening reputation as the "rape capital of the world" overlooks rape's utility as a war weapon.