My brother has recently returned from Africa. He loves to visit volcanoes and thus went to Sao Tome and Principe. He had hoped to go to DR Congo but the civil unrest there makes this a very dangerous place and thus he had to abandon the idea.
Like my brother, I enjoy visiting other cultures, and, like my brother, I can pick and choose where I go.
Of course, millions of people do live in the DR Congo.
I heard a BBC report by Will Storr on DR Congo last night. I don’t really know what to write about it. The violence against everyone is awful, and the violence against women is particularly horrific.
As a father with three daughters, as a principal of a girls’ school who spends each day trying to work out how to get as many young women as possible to flourish, as a husband and son, and as just another person who shares common spaces like streets and parks and shopping centres with women and girls of our community I think I need to do something.
Will Storr’s BBC report features an interview with a rapist. It is horrible to listen to, but it provides an important insight into the mindset of some men who operate with freedom. Significantly, we also hear from the women.
DR Congo is an independent state. It has a dysfunctional government and warlords controlling vast spaces and resources. It thus has mobs of young men with guns roaming the countryside. The BBC reported the situation as follows in May 2012.
Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government in 2003, people in the east of the country remain in terror of marauding militia and the army.
The war claimed an estimated three million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. It has been called possibly the worst emergency to unfold in Africa in recent decades.
The war had an economic as well as a political side. Fighting was fuelled by the country’s vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources.
As long ago as March 2010 Christian Aid called upon key leaders in the UK to act to end the use of rape as a weapon of war (see press release ‘Ongoing presence of armed groups in eastern Congo fuels use of rape as a weapon of war’). They have a series of podcasts and articles regarding this issue that are helpful in providing some ways to act against this horror.
Their capacity to change things is limited. As an NGO they help the victims and lobby governments. At least they do this consistently and thoroughly, and, I think, they, and other groups like them, deserve our attention.