“rape capital of the world”

CNN World posted an article early yesterday morning titled More than 150 women raped in Congolese village. If you read it, you might be struck by its unemotional tone. I have a hard time talking about rape in such clinical calmness. I’m not criticizing CNN — as a news agency, they have some level of expectation to report the news without commentary unless they’re presenting an opinion piece. I get that.

According to an April 2010 posting on another news site, “The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the midst of a horrific and deepening gang rape crisis, according to a new report commissioned by Oxfam. Of the roughly 4,000 rape victims researchers interviewed, 60% said they’d been attacked by groups of armed men. The sheer number of such sexual attacks is increasing too, thanks to the ongoing civil war in the country; both government and rebel forces use rape as a weapon against civilians, the BBC reports.

Margot Wallstrom , the Assistant Secretary for the United Nations, made headlines when she called the country the “rape capital of the world” after a visit to the DRC. A PBS blog states that “The U.N. Population Fund recorded more than 8,000 cases of rape in eastern Congo last year. There have been at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence in the country since civil war erupted in 1996.”

I keep finding articles and more articles that keep saying the same thing.

I keep typing words.

I type, I think, because what I really want to do so beyond myself that I am nearly paralyzed at my own incapacity. I keep typing because my anger is not well controlled and to let it begin to seep out would be unwise, I think. I keep typing because something in me knows that I cannot hide behind my own ignorance and pretend this isn’t happening.

What I expect I need to do is to wail and cry and moan with my sisters and brothers who have suffered and continue to suffer. I’m not sure how to do that.

I also believe that I need to find a way to participate in healing and reconciliation — but know that in order to even be able to pray for these things well I have to get over my own desire to seek revenge, calling it justice. I need to renew my understanding of the truth that all have sinned and all fall short — not as an excuse, but as a reminder to myself that I am no more deserving of the love of a holy God than those who are responsible for these atrocities.


More than 5.4 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since fighting broke out in 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee. This is the largest death toll associated with any conflict since World War II. Survivors in the wake of this ongoing tragedy carry not only the physical scars of war, but also deep -running emotional wounds. Working with minority language speakers, Wycliffe Bible Translators has created Trauma Healing Materials. These resources facilitate grief and forgiveness counseling among the 223 spoken languages in DRC. While these concepts can be taught in languages of broad regional communication, they often touch peoples’ thoughts and feelings best when translated into local languages.

3 thoughts on ““rape capital of the world”

  1. Lucy says:

    This post reminded me of my own journey of heartbreak on this issue, when God confronted me with the rape of women in Darfur See my post for my response: http://hernameislucy.blogspot.com/p/fragile-world.html. While researching that I encountered the plight of the women of the Congo and made a resolution that I would respond to this too, in some small way. So I’m glad, for want of a better word, you have reminded me of my own horror and subsequent resolution when faced by such appalling circumstances.

  2. ed says:

    Thanks for this post. The scope and varied nature of the problems in Congo can be overwhelming, sometimes by bogging us down in anger and revenge, as you say so well. I myself and wondering if the typical American response – how can we fix it – is the right one. Maybe tears for the victims would touch God’s heart more. I wonder if Jesus would have said, ‘Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. There will always be violence and conflict. When you cried for the victims you identified with my suffering.’

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