Half the sky is falling.

Posted on 13 December, 2008. Filed under: Africa, Human Rights, The world | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Rape must be the oldest weapon used against women and girls. It is the ultimate violation, the ultimate assertion of power over another human being. It is an invasion, an assault, a humiliation, a violation. It trades on fear, loss of dignity, loss of power, loss of privacy, loss of self-determination, loss of self-ownership.The scars it leaves are internal and external, physical and emotional, and lasts forever. 

Ensler and Lewis wrote a heart-rendering account of the ongoing rape of women in the DRC.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eve-ensler-and-stephen-lewis/the-never-ending-war_b_150668.html

In the multiple conflict zones of Africa, rape and female mutilation is rife. It precedes wars, escalates during times of conflict, and lingers for years into truces and peace treaties.

Rape and the mutilation of women are tools of terror to be found in any war, but nowhere do we see it as clearly as in Africa. There are probably multiple reasons for this:

  • The protracted nature of warfare in Africa: Most of the conflicts in Africa have a long history, brutal eruptions of horror interspersed by long simmering periods of unreported atrocities.
  • The seclusion of communities: Many villages have neither the means of transport nor the means of communication to report the brutal realities of war. No embedded journalists. No networks of bloggers.
  • The 2nd class citizenship of woman and girls: In Africa woman and girls are still second class citizens. They belong to their men, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. They live to serve, to empower, to enable. 

It is time that the world should not only take notice, but act on this. We need countries, and the UN to pass legislation, or resolutions that will ban the trade in any resources from conflict zones that can in any way, directly or indirectly, fund continued warfare, insurgency and terrorism. This should also include a ban on trade with any groups or companies or individuals that cannot show proof of clear, acceptable and legitimate ownership. (Not ownership by corrupt governments, or bought from corrupt governments.) If we won’t buy from sweatshops, why are we buying from Rape and Pillage Inc? Any companies that are involved in this kind of trade should be named and shamed and charged.

But it is also time for the African Union to stand up and do something, rather than just talk about it.  The African Union, like the OAU before it, has become an old boys’ club that only talks. We are yet to see it demonstrate any resolve in a head-on confrontation of perpetrators of human rights abuses. The “quiet diplomacy” philosophy reigns, very admirably, but to what avail? Is it working, has anything changed? No? Well, then it is time for a more confrontational approach. The time for observers and peacekeepers are running out. What peace is there to keep when a country, no, entire regions of a continent, are at war with itself? When half the sky is falling?

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