The Rape of Congo

The unsteady peace in Congo has lifted some of the fog over atrocities committed during years of catastrophic war. A report by The Guardian reckons that hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the conflict, many of these gang rapes of the most brutal kind. The numbers are based on statistics from human rights organization Global Rights, including statistics of how many women were treated in health clinics for serious sexual assault. The use of rape as a weapon of war appears to have been systematic. Many of the rapes were carried out by the interahamwe, the genocidal extremist Hutu militia that fled into Congo from Rwanda after the Hutu Power government was vanquished in 1994 and has been wreaking havoc ever since. The interahamwe‘s tormenting of ethnic Tutsis in Congo and its cross-border raids into Rwanda were partly responsible for igniting what has been called “Africa’s World War” (not that the world paid all that much attention), in which millions of people died as a result of the violence and seven African states were eventually embroiled. Those who argue against intervention in such gruesome civil wars because “we only make things worse” would do well to consider that an intervention in Rwanda during the genocide there (which the same people of course opposed, on the same grounds) could have prevented not only that atrocity but the destabilization and terror that set off Congo’s bloody conflagration.

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One Comment on “The Rape of Congo”


  1. […] My partner in thought-crime brushed up against a very important thought a few days ago. While the debacle that is Iraq is a daily reminder of the grievous cost of intervention we must consider this cost in light of the alternative of non-intervention. Congo is a perfect case in point. It may seem an obvious idea that there is also a cost to not intervening, but the tenor of the debate around Iraq suggests that it is not as obvious as one might think at first blush. Indeed, I think the meta-question surrounding American foreign policy is this: How far has the liberal internationalist agenda been set back by the botched effort in Iraq? How chastened will America – and the larger Western community – be in the face of grievous human rights violations going forward? […]


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