I have been in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo for the month of December. Christmas at Panzi Hospital was overflowing with raped and tortured women. Many young girls, several under 14, carrying babies. Every day at least 13 new women arrive seeking care to repair the damage done to their bodies from the rapes and sexual torture.
Since Secretary Clinton's wildly publicized and celebrated visit in August, since the UN's report of success for the Kimia II military operation, since the international community in theory woke up to horrors of the merciless economic war in the Congo, the war rages on and takes its toll. I know because I sat with women who live in the bush, many of whom have now been raped two or three times. I sat holding them as their bodies shook uncontrollably, as they leaked urine from fistula, as they compulsively wrung their hands and hid their faces behind their panges and rocked and cried out to God as they told me their stories:
Ntalwinja, who is 50, from Kalehe was raped by the Interhamwe (former Rwandan Genocidaires) in front of her husband, tied to him and their goats and dragged for 12 hours, held as a sex slave for days on end, raped over and over. Left near dead in the bush, she finally returned to find her husband ill, his heart destroyed from what he had witnessed.
Masaura, who was selling fried fish and not a good runner, was grabbed and raped by three Interhamwe soldiers, taking turns and repeating. Finally crawling home, her husband, a gold miner, who had heard she was raped, expelled her and rejected his children because she was pregnant with her rapists' baby.
Mwamirindi was held as a sex slave and pieces of her flesh were cut every few days. She was raped for months and watched them rape her sister in law who they killed and cut open and served for dinner and then when Mwamirindi finally escaped and returned home, she was expelled by her husband who sold her land and house and threw her and her children into the street. Now she is three months pregnant with a baby from the rapes.
Julian, 45, was raped after the Interhamwe broke into her house in the middle of the night and shot her husband and tried to force her son to rape her. When he refused, they shot him, then took her two daughters into the night and she went screaming after them and has never found them and has lost her way.
Ange who was 16 and grabbed by Rwandan soldiers and raped and raped, her insides destroyed...
These horrific acts and thousands more happened in the four months since Secretary Clinton promised action and money, the UN promised protection and claimed it delivered it, and the international community approved their plan. All this happened under the watch of an American President, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, who has yet to make the destruction of the female species of the Congo anything more than a one-line reference in a speech. As this femicide is spreading to other countries and will continue to spread if he does not make this a front and center issue. In the months where the minerals of the Congo continue to be exploited by the world, where the surrounding countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi have yet to be held accountable for waging a regional war in the Congo for those minerals.
Over twelve years, this war, this brutally inconceivable violence has raged on. Almost six million dead. Almost 500 thousand raped. You tell the story of horror and atrocity one too many times and then you realize nothing is changing and that the world goes on getting its minerals, supporting its luxuries and the death, massacres rapes and tortures of millions do not matter. And then you can't find a real reason for wanting to live in humanity or be part of this world but you don't want to kill yourself so you start screaming out, screaming and screaming out and then you get called intense, angry and then mad. Because that is what people who have crossed over get called.
At what point are we all going to cross over?