The following article from the BBC news on June 20th took my breath away. My first thought, I will admit, was “is the place run by men?” (Yes, I realize that is a biased, unfair, sexist, ignorant and politically incorrect and insensitive statement, but come on! Women have known this for years!) The fact that it has to be stated, now, after years of hearing about rape camps in Serbia, the continuing brutal atrocities in eastern Congo, the SPDC’s use of rape to terrorize the ethnic minorities in Burma, and many other situations around the world where rape has been used for centuries (and in this century!) to terrorize and control communities, I’m amazed, apalled, and out of adjectives that it has now become clear to the UN. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7464462.stm
The following report published by the SWAN (Shan Women’s Action Network) documents the use of rape by the SPDC in Burma. The experience is also similar for the other ethnic minorities in Burma. An excerpt from executive summary of this report (linked below) states:
“The report gives clear evidence that rape is officially condoned as a ‘weapon of war’ against the civilian populations in Shan State. There appears to be a concerted strategy by the Burmese army troops to rape Shan women as part of their anti-insurgency activities. The incidents detailed were committed by soldiers from 52 different battalions. 83% of the rapes were committed by officers, usually in front of their own troops. The rapes involved extreme brutality and often torture such as beating, mutilation and suffocation. 25% of the rapes resulted in death, in some incidences with bodies being deliberately displayed to local communities. 61% were gang-rapes; women were raped within military bases, and in some cases women were detained and raped repeatedly for periods of up to 4 months. Out of the total 173 documented incidents, in only one case was a perpetrator punished by his commanding officer. More commonly, the complainants were fined, detained, tortured or even killed by the military.” http://www.shanwomen.org/pdf/Licence_to_Rape.pdf
Heal Africa works to repair the lives and bodies of women suffering brutal rapes in the Congo. The documentation of the nightmare going on there is endless. Heal Africa is part of the good news in a very dark place. www.healafrica.org
In the NY Times on June 15th, Nicholas Kristoff puts it like this, “First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.
Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.” (link below)
I don’t mean to seem ungrateful. This is a major step! Admitting rape happens, and happens a lot, and shouldn’t happen is all good! Thank you, UN, for finally making it official. Now, can you do anything about it?