Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo

The purpose of the event that I attended was to spread awareness of rape being used as a weapon of war in the Democratic-Republic area of the Congo. The film that we watched is called The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, which is a prize-winning documentary that interviews survivor Congolese rape victims and explains a little more about the situation happening in the Congo. Many of these women who were raped told their personal stories which consisted of men breaking into their homes, stealing their possessions, and raping and killing their family members. By simply watching the interviews, one can definitely tell that these women and even their children have been traumatized for life. The majority of women that have been raped are either dying slowly or are discriminated against and abandoned by their communities. Not only that, but many of the women are left impregnated and feel obliged to give birth to the babies as well. The men who rape these women vary from rebel groups to Hutu perpetrators to army soldiers. Unfortunately, these men feel no shame or regret for what they do and simply do it because the country is at war. About two-hundred thousand women and girls have been raped so far and every day this number increases in large increments. As a result, this leaves more and more women and children with the feeling of shame, terror, guilt, and anger, but with no voice in their country to speak out against what has happened to them.
I thought that this was a very eye-opening and informing event and I’m glad that I attended it. I think it’s important to spread awareness when things like this happen in the world because once we become educated about these things, we can try to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening. Fortunately, we do not live in a society where rape is a used as a weapon of war and because of this we should exercise our voices and do something to help others who are in desperate need. Some of the interviews with the rape victims as well as interviews with the men who rape the women in the film were just appalling to watch. It was disheartening to see how emotionally and physically affected the women were by the rapes, while the men did not seem affected at all. It makes me question what kind of men would ever do such things to women and how something like this could possibly occur in the 20th century. As the documentary had mentioned, if the women in Africa are destroyed, then the African society and culture will be destroyed with them. Women play an important role in their society, whether the men have realized that or not; they carry things, nurture, heal their families when they are ill, etc. If the raping continues to occur at the rate that it currently is, then soon there will be a drastic decrease in the number of women living in Congo.
In the documentary, there was also an interview with a Congolese priest in Buyankiri. He said that it was often common for women who are raped to go to priests and tell them about their rape stories. He mentioned that the priests are there to listen to the women as well as to educate families and communities about the situation going on in the Congo. As Fr. Bienvenu Matanzonga, S.J. and Dr. Matthias Cinyabuguma said, ninety percent of the Congolese people believe in God and continue to have faith everyday. They strongly hope that soon there will be an end to all of the violence going on in their country, whether it’s the raping or the war itself. The amount of faith that the Congolese women have is demonstrated when the woman in the documentary enters a church full of survivor rape victims. When the woman came into the church to greet the women, they all thought she was there to simply bring them hope. This situation happening in the Congo right now ties into the Jesuit education because the Jesuits believe in everything that contradicts what is happening over there. For example, the Jesuits believe that sex is something that is sacred and should be honored. This is clearly not the case amongst the men in the Congo, because they feel no shame or guilt for the number of women that they rape on a daily basis. Jesuits also believe in peace between all human beings. Again, this is something not demonstrated in the Congo because the country is currently at war and in addition to that, men are using rape as a form of terrorism. Most importantly though, the Jesuits can relate to the Congolese women because like them, the women over there continue to have faith and pray for better days.

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