Societies crumble when it starts to decay from inside. The recent findings on the treatment of women and children in conflict zones shed light upon how apathetic we have become to the sufferings of others. War is not just limited to combats, it has taken a broader meaning including psychological warfare.
Sexual assault is one such tool which is being used by armies to keep the opposing party in check. We talk about women empowerment, equal wages, and maternity leave but ignore or rather choose to ignore these basic and barbaric acts done against these women who have no ray of light to help them in their fight against injustice.
These are some countries infamous for treating their women as if they were some property to pillage.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Known as the ‘Rape Capital’ of the world, statistics claim that 48 women are raped every hour. Many of the perpetrators of the sexual violence are military groups. Sexual violence is seen as a means to humiliate not only the victim but also her family and husband. Many of them are then isolated from the society and are forced to works as sex slaves for foreign soldiers and UN Peacekeepers.
The commanders reward their troops with villages to invade and rape. Rape are orchestrated publically in presence of witnesses and are called ‘la reigne’. The women are gang raped in the middle of the village.
The government of Darfur responded to the rebel groups, fighting for the non-Arabs of Darfur, in 2003 by carrying out ethnic cleansing and killing all the non-Arabs. As soon as the conflict began the number of atrocities against women increased suddenly.
Rape is being used as a weapon of war in the ethnic cleansing of black Africans from the region. Children as young as 2 years old are victims. Women are attacked and sexually mutilated.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) uses sexual violence to undermine a sense of security within communities. It captures women and uses them to raise funds by forcing them into sexual slavery.
Soldiers are told that they are free to rape non-Muslim captive women as they are war spoils. ISIL justifies this act by stating that the Quran and Hedith support their right to rape non-Muslim women.
During the Libyan civil war, Gaddafi had given clear instructions to soldiers to rape women if they speak against his regime. It is even claimed that he distributed impotency drugs to sustain the rapes.
A recent United Nations report confirms that South Sudan’s government allowed the soldier to plunder and rape the civilians. Ever since the government gained an upper hand over the rebels in the civil war, it began carrying out such travesties. Many of the women became sex slaves and were treated as property by the militia.
In most of the cases the government is themselves involved in such heinous acts. So external forces like United Nations and International Criminal Court have to intervene to bring the perpetrators to justice. The UN has set up rape camps but they aren’t safe for women either and there are allegations against the UN peacekeepers for assaulting the rape victims.
We need to get over our petty issues of cast, creed, religion and think about those who are unfortunate enough to not get the right to live with dignity.