rape

First they shot her husband. Then the soldiers killed her two sons. When the uniformed men yanked her daughter from her hands next, Mary didn’t think it could get any worse

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Mary and her family were members of the Nuer tribe in South Sudan, caught up in a vicious power struggle between the new country’s President Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and his Vice President, Riek Machar, a Nuer. Their war, fought largely along ethnic lines, has turned the northern part of the country into a wasteland. At least 50,000 people have been killed, according to the U.N., nearly 4 million face famine, and another 2.2 million have fled their homes, recounting tales of civilian slaughter, gratuitous torture and even forced cannibalism. Mary and her family were among the tens of thousands of civilians seeking refuge at a U.N. peacekeeping base in the northern city of Bentiu when they ran into Kiir’s forces on the road in June 2014.

The 27-year-old recounts what occurred next distantly, as if she were explaining something that happened to someone else. The soldiers told Mary that they considered the Nuers in the camps to be rebels, and that they killed her sons because they couldn’t risk letting them grow up to be fighters. “We don’t kill the women and the girls,” the soldiers told Mary. “They said they would only rape us. As if rape were different than death,” says Mary, speaking in a safe house in neighboring Uganda run by Make Way Partners, an American Christian organization that provides housing, medical care and schooling for South Sudanese orphans and victims of human trafficking. After the soldiers killed her husband and sons, five of them held her down and forced her to watch as three others raped her 10-year-old daughter. Her name was Nyalaat. When the men were done, Mary says, “I couldn’t even see my little girl anymore. I could only see blood.” Then the men took turns with Mary. Nyalaat died a few hours later. “I wanted to die too.”

Instead, Mary made it to a U.N. camp for civilians displaced by war. The conflict raged on, and soldiers—she’s not even sure from which army—were able to slip into the camp through gaps in the fence and rape whichever women they could catch. “It happened to all of us: little girls, grandmothers. They didn’t care.” The rules were simple, says Mary, who asked that her full name not be used. “If you calm down when they are raping you, they won’t beat you. But if you resist, they will beat you, even so much to use the gun in you.”

Rape in war is as old as war itself. But the intimate nature of sexual assault means that the horrors often go undocumented, sanitized out of history books and glossed over in news accounts that focus on casualties and refugee numbers. Yet that mass rape is so common in wartime only makes it more corrosive. It spreads disease. Its stigma destroys families and breaks down society. It leaves unwanted children who serve as constant reminders of the worst day of their mother’s life. “Rape is a weapon even more powerful than a bomb or a bullet,” says Jeanna Mukuninwa, a 28-year-old woman from Shabunda, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “At least with a bullet, you die. But if you have been raped, you appear to the community like someone who is cursed. After rape, no one will talk to you; no man will see you. It’s a living death.”

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Mukuninwa knows. In 2004, at the end of Congo’s own factional war, soldiers attacked her village. They tortured and killed the men. Then they stripped the women, including Mukuninwa, and staked their arms and legs to the ground, and left them to be used by any passing soldiers. Mukuninwa doesn’t know how many men raped her during captivity, but she remembers that they used sticks and rifle barrels as well. She was 16 years old. When the women passed out from the pain, soldiers revived them with buckets of water.

The U.N. reports that 200,000 Congolese women and children have been raped during Congo’s long-simmering conflict. Estimates for South Sudan are in the thousands. Both numbers are likely too low, says Pablo Castillo-Diaz, a specialist on sexual violence in conflict for U.N. Women, the U.N. agency tasked with issues of women’s equality, protection and empowerment. “Rape is one of the most underreported war crimes that there are. Women, if they survive the attack, rarely tell anyone else. We only hear of the most brutal incidences or the public ones that the whole community sees.”

But that’s begun to change. Rape may be a common war tactic, but it was only prosecuted as a crime against humanity in 1998, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, following the discovery of the rape camps used by Serb soldiers during the Bosnian war. At the same time, Rwandan officials were also charged with rape as a war crime during that country’s 1994 genocidal conflict. Widespread media coverage of both trials drew international condemnation. Talking about rape in war became less taboo.

Most recently, harrowing revelations about ISIS’s sale of Yezidi women as sexual slaves in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram’s abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls for forced marriages in Nigeria, have pushed survivors and activists to demand a real global response to a war crime with consequences so enduring it all but precludes peace. “The raping of women, the holding of women as chattel and slaves is utterly horrific, but it isn’t new. It’s just an escalation and amplification of what has been going on for many years,” says Eve Ensler, the American playwright and activist. “Anytime people are talking about this, it’s a good thing. But what hasn’t happened is that we haven’t ended the violence. That is the next step.”

After spending a year at the displaced-persons camp in South Sudan, Mary decided last April to leave for the capital of Juba. By this time she was pregnant and could only guess at which of the six different men that had raped her at the camp might be the father. It was too late to take the herbs that some of the other women in the camp used to rid themselves of unwanted pregnancies, and a medical abortion would have been impossible to obtain. Instead, Mary planned to poison the baby as soon as it was born and throw it in the garbage, a curse from God that she would return to God. “I had nothing. No family, no income. I was thinking, ‘How will I be able to take care of a child that reminds me, every time I look at its face, of what happened to me in the camp?’”

In the end, Mary kept the baby, now a burbling 8-month-old, after a friend convinced her that she would find support. Still, Mary struggles with the trauma of her daughter’s conception. She cannot bring herself to say, out loud, that she loves the child, but her tender caresses and softly sung lullabies make it clear that she does.

Unwanted pregnancies like Mary’s are one of the most painful problems resulting from conflict-related rape. Not only are the women stigmatized, but so too are their children. In eastern Congo alone, as many as 50,000 children were born of rape over the past two decades. In many countries in Africa and the Middle East, they are not eligible for national IDs without a father’s name on the birth certificate, which prevents them from going to school or receiving government assistance. Growing up, they are ostracized as the sons and daughters of loathed enemies and often face discrimination. Yet there are few ways for the victims of rape to abort their pregnancies even if they want to. The U.S.’s Helms Amendment, enacted in 1973, prevents American assistance funds from going to programs that also provide abortions. Since most international humanitarian medical organizations rely in some part on U.S. funding, they are reluctant to take the risk, even if they believe there is a need.

For more than 10 years they have kept the lid on this…
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In July a consortium of 56 international human-rights, legal, medical and religious groups from 22 countries petitioned President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order affirming the rights of female war-rape victims to comprehensive medical care, including abortion, under the Geneva Conventions. So far, Obama has not officially responded. “We think in terms of making an actual difference in women’s lives, the ability to obtain an abortion in the case of ­conflict-related sexual violence would have the biggest impact,” says Diaz of U.N. Women. Still, the notion of aborting a pregnancy is so taboo in the Christian communities of Congo and South Sudan that it’s not clear how many women would avail themselves of the services even if they did exist.

Not all women see their children conceived in rape as burdens. Ayak was 17 when she lost her family to a rebel attack on her village near Bentiu, in South Sudan. She was raped while fleeing, alone, for the camp, and like Mary, she was raped repeatedly while she was there. One of her rapists gave her HIV, and now she is pregnant. Make Way Partners, the American Christian organization that helped Mary, also brought Ayak to Uganda for treatment.

Speaking in a halting English she picked up as a child in a Kenyan refugee camp, Ayak says that her unborn child is the only family she is likely to ever have. In South Sudan, having HIV would make her a social pariah. “I want a family, I want a husband. But the doctors say there is no cure for my disease. No one will ever marry me.” She cradles her pregnant belly with both hands and smiles sadly as she envisions a lonely future. “This baby will be my friend. He will keep me company.”

To put an end to rape in war, rather than merely healing it, requires that this actions be treated as a war crime, point blank, and not just a “second-class crime that happens to second-class citizens,”

USA, the superpower of the world is at 3rd position in the race of rapes.  According to George Mason University, Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics, 1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. About 19.3% of women and 2% of men have been raped at least once in their lives. Additionally, an estimated 43.9% of women and 23.4% of men experienced other forms of sexual violence during their lifetimes. Many victims of sexual abuse were victimized at a young age, about 79% were first raped before age 25, and 40% before age 18.

Every 107 seconds, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. There is an average of 293,000 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year. 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

Now, dear reader…please stop for a second and understand that in USA there is now war, not yet. Could you imagine the rape rate when the things goes south in USA? Could you imagine how many similar stories  American girls and woman will have when the attacker knows that there is no prison waiting for him, no death penalty, when he knows he can get away with it?

This is the sad reality of the war that will be upon us very soon, this is the reason why you need to take action now and prepare until is not too late. Protect your family and make a plan because the war is coming.

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