A Policy of Rape

This Nicholas Kristof op-ed in the Times, about rape in Darfur, is brutal, but also a must-read.

On March 26, a 17-year-old student named Hawa went to a French-run clinic in Kalma and reported that she had been raped. A French midwife examined her and confirmed that she was bleeding and had been raped.

But an informer in the clinic alerted the police, who barged in and – over the determined protests of two Frenchwomen – carried Hawa off to a police hospital, where she was chained to a cot by one leg and one arm. A doctor there declared that she had not been raped after all, and Hawa was then imprisoned for a couple of days. The authorities are now proposing that she be charged with submitting false information.

The attacks are sometimes purely about humiliation. Some women are raped with sticks that tear apart their insides, leaving them constantly trickling urine. One Sudanese woman working for a European aid organization was raped with a bayonet. […]

I’m still chilled by the matter-of-fact explanation I received as to why it is women who collect firewood, even though they’re the ones who are raped. The reason is an indication of how utterly we are failing the people of Darfur, two years into the first genocide of the 21st century.

“It’s simple,” one woman here explained. “When the men go out, they’re killed. The women are only raped.”

Read the whole thing. Thanks to Robert for the tip.

UPDATE: And read this post by Seth Chalmer, as well:

Even from Darfur activists, I’ve usually heard the victims described as “non-Arab tribes”, or “African tribes”. I’ve used that terminology myself, because I’ve heard it from others.

Why aren’t we saying the blunt truth? Complexities there may be, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Janjaweed are trying to murder all black people.

This entry posted in International issues, Race, racism and related issues, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

6 Responses to A Policy of Rape

  1. 1
    Kevin T. Keith says:

    the Janjaweed are trying to murder all black people.

    They’re also trying to murder all non-Muslim people, which is one of the complexities – and possibly the one that really matters in that region.

    Note, particularly, that the aims of the Muslim forces and their government supporters are not merely to control the whole country but to impose sharia on it. So the religious distinction is central to their overall plan; the racial one is at most incidental. That is, it’s clear that religious conflict must be part of what’s going on – and would be enough to explain the killings and abuses by itself – while it’s not clear that racial conflict actually is part of the motivation for those acts, nor a necessary part of an adequate explanation for why they are occurring.

  2. 2
    maureen says:

    But, Kevin, the majority of those displaced, murdered and raped in Darfur are Muslims – see
    http://platform.blogs.com/passionofthepresent/2004/10/sudan_rejects_d.html – so that explanation does not quite work.

    The people of Darfur are culturally different from those in this and previous governments and their political demand is for separation of the state from the religious hierarchy in Khartoum.

    A difference in their understanding of Islam plus a degree of racism are both part of the problem but this one is too complex and too dreadful just to be filed under “religious nutters” and left to sort itself out.

  3. 3
    Julian Elson says:

    I do think it’s somewhat regrettable how media attention has focused so exclusively on Darfur to the exclusion of the rest of southern Sudan, which is also brutally attacked by Khartoum and its affiliated militias. Millions of people have been killed throughout southern Sudan for decades.

    Say what you will about Kristof, but this is an issue where he’s been very persistant, and rightly so.

  4. 4
    Jayanne says:

    The ICC is investigating war crimes in Darfur:


    but it’s also investigated DR Congo http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/icc/2004/0623probe.htm

    nothing’s happened as a result, yet.

    “I do think it’s somewhat regrettable how media attention has focused so exclusively on Darfur to the exclusion of the rest of southern Sudan,”


  5. 5
    Josh Jasper says:

    We ought to take a close look at who’s trying to block intervention in Sudan. Those nations are complicit in genocide.

  6. 6
    roberta robinson says:

    those poor woman, I feel sorry for them, to live with that kind of fear and or actual event is horrible.

    and then they are charged with giving a false report and mistreated by being chained? barbaric.