It Takes Men To Stop Rape in Congo – Christine Karumba, Country Director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The fact that rape victims are breaking the silence around the horrific sexual violence endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is crucial for building peace and stability in the country. But without involving Congolese men, it will be difficult to address this problem successfully. Women have started to speak out on their devastating experiences. Men, by in large, have remained mute while playing a strong part in stigmatizing and excluding rape survivors.

Recently, more work has been done to engage men and encouraging them to change attitudes towards sexual violence and survivors of rape. Our Men’s Leadership Program, for example, appeals to the strong responsibility men have in the patriarchic Congolese society. Men are encouraged to understand women’s rights as a contribution to strong and successful family structures and recognize the vast implications of rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

Our data shows that including male perspectives builds community-wide understanding of preventing and overcoming sexual violence. Although more research is necessary, our experience also indicates that men have emerged from this program as using their position of influence to advocate against sexual violence and social exclusion of survivors.

Honorata Kizende, who was featured in your story, came to us a survivor of sexual slavery and gang rape.  After graduating from our year-long program of rights-based, life skills training, she is now a Women for Women International program trainer, helping others to rebuild their lives and speak out against gender-based violence in the country’s protracted war. Honorata has come a long way from victim to survivor to active citizen. Now Congolese men need our assistance to start their own transformation.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Democratic Republic of the Congo

2 responses to “It Takes Men To Stop Rape in Congo – Christine Karumba, Country Director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. Word Citizen

    Hi, Olakitike;

    I appreciate your response. However, I don’t think anything in my own post suggested, far less categorically stated in so many words, that ” women have no responsibility at all in the course society has taken.” That would be to agree with Men’s mental and social construction of Woman as a “thing-ified” sub-human nonentity, to be controlled/abused under the guise of being “cared” for.

    To the contrary, it is my unshakeable belief that Women have a responsibility FIRST – to themselves, by dint of the sub-humanised lives that Men have forced them to live within this same society, and only thereafter to anyone, or anything else.

    It is quite simple, really: when engaged in any War (at least any that one hopes to win, and not merely tediously go-through the motions of fighting!) the Warrior must concentrate their whole focus and energies on the complete scope and ambit which informs that particular battle. For example, Women in Africa and their empathetic sisters the world over, cannot – sensibly, try to fight against the continued atrocities committed by African militants in the Congo, without DE-COMPARTMENTALIZING THE MALE FROM THE MALE-WARRIOR. The MAN FROM THE HUMAN BEING.

    To elucidate further: Whether it would have been through eagerly signing up for service, or reprehensibly being kidnapped as children and forced into service, let us HONESTLY examine what EXACTLY determines HOW, WHAT and WHY – for example, the Congolese Militant will commit the atrocities that he has been so callously engaged in, and – to date, appears to show no sign of ceasing – certainly NOT OF HIS OWN FREE WILL, but only if/when stopped by a bullet.

    And I use the CONGOLESE MILITANT here as my example, in exactly the SAME DENUNCIATORY MANNER that I would cite the actions of EUROPEAN BRUTES such as: the atrocities committed by the BOSNIAN-SERB under the guise of fighting Balkanist-state wars, where the first order of business appeared to be the seizure of former Hotels, Schools, Churches and subsequent make-over into sex dungeons within which their once former sisters/wives/daughters/mothers were sexually savaged. In much the same way as the WORLD’S BLACK & WHITE MEN temporarily suspend – if not dispel altogether, their individual racial, national or other ideological differences to become JOINED-AT-THE-LOINS when it comes to controlling and brutalising the World’s Women, so too we can add the ASIAN JAPANESE, who similarly used/abused the Bodies of their own female citizenry as “Comfort Women” during the Brute-Beast Happy Hour that is – really – all that Men DELIBERATELY CREATE THEIR WARS TO BE.

    Hence, when I cite the SUB-HUMAN, SHAMEFUL, BRUTISH ACTS of the African Congolese, they are in fact LITERALLY KINDRED-BRUTISH ACTS OF A RACIAL BRUTE-BROTHERHOOD AROUND THE GLOBE. Acts focussed upon UNIVERSALLY SELECTING WOMEN AND HER CHILDREN AS PRIME VICTIM. Acts committed by MEN wearing, or more factually HIDING-BEHIND THE UNIFORM/MASK OF THE WARRIOR, in a CALCULATED BID to protect THEIR OWN LIVES AND FUTURES! TO RE-ENTER “CIVILIZATION” WITHOUT BLAME OR SHAME, AFTER THEIR BESTIAL BEHAVIOURS!

    But WHY should either MAN or WARRIOR expect such a rarified existence? WHAT rationale can he submit to benefit thus? After all, was he NOT – BEFORE HE CHOOSE TO BECOME A WARRIOR – FIRST – A HUMAN BEING, LIVING AMONG OTHER HUMAN BEINGS? FIRST – A CHERISHED BOY-CHILD? FIRST – A, FAITHFUL FRIEND? FIRST – A CARING NEIGHBOUR…LOVING HUSBAND….ALL REAL AND VIABLE MODES OF LIVING AND BEING, BEFORE HE DELIBERATELY TOOK-UP ARMS, AND IN SO DOING, DELIBERATELY LET-GO OF HIS OWN HUMANITY, AND RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS AS A HUMAN BEING?!?

    So, Olakitike, when you say: [QUOTE:] “…The truth is that there are good men…” [UN-QUOTE], you speak – as you are entitled to, MERELY of OTHER, NON-ABUSIVE MEN that you know. Hence, I do not accept that these – real and honourable examples though they are, ARE or SHOULD IN ANY WAY NEGATE THE VAST MAJORITY THAT CHOOSE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN WAYS THAT HORRIFICALLY IMPACT ON THESE SAME FEW GOOD MEN, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, ALL OF THE MANY WOMEN AFFECTED FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL TO NOW.

    To accept your implied contention, that because a (very!) few Humane men exist, rightful-blame and shame should somehow be suspended from falling upon the heads of those who conversely – and deliberately – DO ALL IN THEIR POWER TO DESERVE SUCH CENSURE, IS TO CONCUR UNWITTINGLY WITH EVERY VILLAIN – BLACK, WHITE & BROWN, MALE OR FEMALE, who deliberately sets out to COMMIT A CRIME, but nonetheless expects to fall back on THE EXPECTED/DEMANDED-FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS WITHIN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION.

    For this is EXACTLY the kind of HYPOCRITCAL PHILOSOPHY that Criminals deploy: “TO FORGIVE ME, IS TO PLACE YOUR OWN MORALITY AT ITS HUMANE OPTIMUM. TO FAIL TO FORGIVE ME, IS TO BE JUST LIKE ME.” However, to intellectually buy into that claim made to one’s ego or Pride in Self, has little to do with HONEST, RATIONALE JUDGEMENT, but EVERYTHING to do with SATISFYING ONE’S EGO AS A “GOOD” HUMAN BEING, BEFORE SOCIETY’S – NOT HUMANITY’S, NOR LAW’S – WATCHFUL AND DISCRIMINATORY COURT-OF-THE-PEOPLE. In short: to be considered a “bad,” or “unfeeling” person by other persons within one’s social sphere.

    So that when you say [QUOTE: “….I really do not believe that men are totally to blame for the lot of women….” I [UN-QUOTE], you in FACT SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE of the Congolese Militiaman. A Man who, THOUGH BORN A HUMAN BEING, chooses by dint of the relentness callous of his wartime atrocities committed, to be basically asking of his own countryfolk and of a watching and horrified World, to accept as FACT, some self-serving and selective Moral Thesis under which HE BE JUDGED AND/OR FORGIVEN – NOT AS CALLOUSLY-ACTING HUMAN BEING that he really is, but instead as some MINDLESS, UNFEELING WAR-MACHINE while engaged in WAR. (..A “MINDLESS, UNFEELING MACHINE” WHO NONETHELESS STILL MATERIALLY COVETS STOLEN LOOT AND ALL THAT IT CAN BUY, AND PHYSICALLY LUSTS AFTER IINHUMANE AND SAVAGE CARNAL PURSUITS …!) So that, according to his PARTICULARISED CALCULATIONS – and brutality is a particularly calcuated act, the world should however look away while he performs the following horrific ACTS OF INHUMANITY WHILE MASKED IN HIS SOLDIER-GARB: loots the property of his once-former neighbours FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL GAIN NOW THAT HE HAS “MIGHT” – NOT RIGHT, ON HIS SIDE…, terrorizes his former elderly school teacher or ancient village pastor FOR HIS OWN EGOTISTICAL LUST NOW THAT HE HAS “MIGHT” – NOT RIGHT, ON HIS SIDE; …. physically rapes and psychologically tortures the half-formed bodies of baby girls, of other persons’ sister, their mothers, other men’s wives and our revered grandmothers….ALL FOR THE SATISFACTION OF HIS OWN PHYSICAL LUST AND EGOTISTICAL HUNGER FOR BRUTE-CONTROL…WHILE MASKED IN HIS SOLDIER’S GARB.

    For make no doubt about it: Women are engaged in a Gender War. Irrespective of whether the term “war” is too strong for delicate, ladylike mental-palates to digest and contemplate, it nonetheless remains a HARD, BRUTAL FACH OF THEIR’S AND OTHERS’ LIVES. And for WOMEN, at least, this is no minor skirmish: this War as CREATED, PERPETUATED AND SUSTAINED BY MEN, continues to be waged for the HIGHEST OF STAKES, namely: for WOMAN’S HUMANITY! No matter how facile and/or pragmatic the terminology used by society to couch this battle as mere Reclamation of Women’s Social and Economic Rights.

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