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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF BLEEDING HEARTS The Rape Culture of The Congo – A Progressive Tale 30 Aug. 2017 PDF  | Print |  E-mail


The Rape Culture of The Congo – A Progressive Tale


30 Aug. 2017


Dear Friends and Patriots,


            I want to share a story with you.  Part of it is generally known but hardly ever discussed in our nation.  The other part was spurred by a National Public Radio (NPR) report that was peculiar in its lack of introspective analysis.  Just as an exercise, and in keeping with my efforts to encourage critical thinking, this article will describe the situation, but you’ll need to do your own critical analysis to determine the reason I’m telling the tale.

            This story takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which on its best days is anything but democratic.  The context of the story involves what is described by human rights organizations as a culture of rape.  Rape in all forms possible are not just major crimes in the DRC, they’re second only to murder in that country.  Human rights people have designated the DRC the rape capital of the world.  On the surface it would appear anyone in the country is a candidate for rape.  Yes, it’s truly that big of a problem.

We live in a different world from the people of the DRC.  They exist in a sea of corruption and violence.  We have our problems here in America, but ours pale in comparison.  When you study the rates for the various categories of crime there and compare them to the most violent cities here, you’ll be astounded and you should be asking yourself, “How can anyone tolerate a place like that?”  It goes to show people can become accustomed to just about anything.  As a species, humans can tolerate and survive amazing difficulties. 

In the DRC sexual violence is often used as a tool to control the population. The perpetrators are from several segments of society, from powerful politicians in the cities, to local and national police, to rebel militia members in the remote reaches of the country.    No one is immune.  No one is ever truly safe.  There seem to be two classes of people who thrive in the DRC; the very strong and the very lucky.  Everyone else lives their lives in constant danger that only varies in degree.

The DRC is a country of strong native traditions.  When it comes to the treatment of women one can comprehend some aspects of the rape culture.  Rape is used as a demonstration of power and authority, and to instill fear.  Women in their mostly tribal societies have two aspects of fear; the obvious one from the physical violence of rape itself, and the guilt and social stigma that customarily follows.  Women raised in native traditions are shunned if they are raped; considered unclean, diseased or otherwise undesirable as neighbors, friends or wives.  Even the children of villages know who is considered unclean and often taunt them as they go about their daily business.

The situation has been dire in the DRC for decades.  So much so that concerted efforts to help rape victims have been launched in all population centers in the country, with regular outreach efforts into the countryside.  The world became sensitized to the plight of the people, especially the women and girls, and programs were initiated and coordinated by the UN and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  Those organizations provide medical and trauma counseling services to all who identify themselves as rape victims. This is where other problems seem to have begun.

The NPR broadcast on the situation aired this week.  Correspondent Gregory Warner was in the DRC to get a better sense of the social impact of the rape culture and the effectiveness of the aid programs aimed at helping the victims.  His findings contained inferences of cultural issues that aren’t being addressed by the aid groups, and problems actually made worse by certain aid group policies.

Mr. Warner interviewed several women in his report.   One, a 21 year old named Deborah, told him of her childhood and her mother’s admonition to avoid the “unclean” women in their village.  She recounted how as a child she and her friends had pointed and laughed at those women and made comments about them being diseased.  But once the various aid agencies started coming to her village she noticed something different.  The aid workers encouraged the reluctant victims to tell their stories.  As incentives they gave food and cooking oil to each rape victim who came forward.  After a while everyone in the village began to notice the raped women never had any problem accessing food, while the rest of the village of subsistence farmers often went for long periods of time with little to eat.   

Eventually Deborah was encouraged by other women to get in line at the aid station and make up her own rape encounter story so she could have a guaranteed source of food.    After holding out for a time she finally yielded and joined the line.  She’d heard many stories of rape in her short life, so making up a credible tale of being abducted and carried off into the woods by three members of a rebel militia wouldn’t have raised any suspicion at all.  The young woman obtained the free food she sought.  All she had to do to keep her food supply coming was to continue telling her story.

At the end of the interview Deborah talked of the intense guilt she felt.  She took the free food she obtained and gave it to her brothers.  She said she couldn’t eat any of it; that it was stolen food and she regretted ever being talked into getting in the line and lying about an encounter she’d never had.

            Mr. Warner was informed by aid workers that there were many in the country who made up rape tales for food.  The practice became so pervasive it was given a euphemism:  fond de commerce, which is a French term that translates as “stock in trade.”  The term makes little sense to us, but after all, it is Africa.

            Later in his report Mr. Warner talked of an aid worker who often visited outlying villages.  The man admitted he met many women whom he was certain weren’t actual rape victims.  He said he offered money to women who related rape stories, and often his own compensation was linked to the number of stories he collected.  In his words, “If they wanted 100 stories, I could always come back with 100 or more.”  When asked if he was sure of the stories the women told he indicated he could often tell by the way they looked at him and their body language who was telling the truth and who was not.  When asked if he thought he was engaged in collecting stories of actual rape encounters or just helping the poor, the man admitted he thought he was actually helping the poor.

            The rest of the report had to do with group therapy sessions and the techniques used to help rape victims accommodate themselves to their experiences.

            The next part of this exercise is yours to determine.  How does this progressive tale relate directly to our American experience?  We certainly don’t experience the level of violence here that they do in the DRC.  Our political class may or may not be corrupt, but it certainly isn’t corrupt to the same extent and in the same ways.  We don’t have armed bands of rebel militia preying on innocent citizens.  But in other ways this tale has familiar themes.  Can you identify social problems created by the efforts of the UN and the NGOs?  Can you predict longer-term ramifications that might occur if current aid policies are not changed?  Can you suggest better ways to help the people in need?

            Here’s another thing to think about.  Just because a problem is occurring halfway around the world, or even just across a state line doesn’t mean anyone should rush in and try to fix it.  Unless all the realities of a situation are identified and understood it’s often the case that remedies undertaken will only result in a cascade of issues that weren’t present before.  This case in the DRC is rife with interesting consequences and many of them are almost identical in their essence to those seen in our own society.

            If we can learn by observation, perhaps we can fix ourselves.  If we can’t, then maybe we’ll continue down our own progressive road to perdition.  If our politicians are incapable of critical thought about these things we have very little hope.  Then again, it may just be we have a role in educating our politicians in how to identify the exact nature of a problem and how to create better solutions.


MAGA, Baby!


In Liberty,