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And Now For Something Completely Tragic

Today, we're covering what is probably the saddest topic we've ever covered, rape.

Rape is an international problem, and the following links show a particularly gruesome narrative: 1. Rape is a part of every warzone. It shouldn't be, but it is. 2. Rape is a weapon, used by the most desperate and immoral forces around the world. 3. America’s military doesn’t use rape as a weapon, but rape still occurs in Iraq and Afghanistan, both to our troops and to civilians.

Last year, Michael C called me and asked if I listened to an episode of NPR’s podcast Foreign Dispatch about the massacre in Guinea. I told him I had, and we both agreed it was one of the saddest stories we had ever heard. Last year, during a mass human rights protest, military soldiers under ruling strongman Captain Mousa Camara killed over 157 protesters in the local soccer stadium. During the massacre, soldiers began stripping and raping women in public. (For an audio account of this tragedy, click here.)

Rape and political violence go hand in hand. Rape has been a weapon in Congo for years. And in Haiti, during the chaotic aftermath of the earthquake, rape became endemic.

Fortunately, The UN has started to work on this issue, calling rape "no more inevitable than, or acceptable than, mass murder." The UN now classifies mass rape as an equal crime to mass murder.

And America has joined in as well. The financial reform bill contains provisions tracking and prohibiting US corporations from funding or selling conflict minerals, minerals gathered through gang rape, or the threat of gang rape. Rape isn’t about sex but power. In power vacuums, groups can use rape or forced marriage to as a means of political control and domination.

The saddest part of this link drop is that rape has become apart of the experience for America's fighting women. According to Representative Jane Harman in Time magazine, “a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.” The PRI show To The Best Of Our Knowledge provides a provocative story about female soldiers suffering sexual assault in Baghdad in this report too.

There isn’t much of a thesis to this post. But rape is an often under reported problem, and we haven’t posted on it yet, so this fills the gap until we have a full article with our thoughts.

(We found many of these stories on NPR's weekly podcast Foreign Dispatch, a collection "of some of the best coverage of news and events filed by NPR’s corespondents from around the globe.")

two comments

Rape, as horrible as it is, simply is not the same as murder. To classify them as the same is simply wrong but it doesn’t surprise me the toothless UN is doing just that.

And as for Jane Harman, I wouldn’t take much of what she says as being even close to the truth as she was caught on wiretaps trying to help an Israeli operative with the Justice Department in exchange for them helping her get the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.


Harrison, while I agree with the sentiment that rape is not the same as murder. Assuming the victim is left alive, rape can be even more debilitating, particularly on a mass scale, which Eric is referencing. Mass rape is, as mentioned above, about power and control. It is primarily committed against women, often leading to a propagation of fear and subservience that allows a cycle of control to continue. In many cultures, the victim of an individual act of rape can even be stoned to death after the fact for failing to remain pure. In other instances it leads to unwanted pregnancy. What Eric is arguing isn’t whether rape or murder is worse, it’s that mass rape as a weapon or method to control a population is as unforgivable a crime against humanity as mass murder.