Sexual Violence as a Tool of War

Officials from the UN's Human Rights Council on Violence Against Women are shocked by the high number of sex crimes perpetuated in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the report, these include things such as gang rape, forcing men to have sex with women in their families, and forcing women to eat excrement or flesh of their murdered relatives.

The report says that 4,500 cases of sexual violence have happened in one region - South Kivu - since the year began. 4,500.

That's a staggering number.

The perpetrators of the violence include the rebel groups and the FARDC and the state police.

That sexual violence continues to be a tool of war - perpetrated by all sides of wars - is a stark reminder that the work of feminism continues. While it's important to continue the work of feminism at home, we need to also use the tools of feminism to bring change to the way a great deal of the world views women.

Of course, one of the struggles of this is the fear of being colonizers ourselves (as feminists). Can we take what is something out of a European and American tradition and impose it on the rest of the world? In this case, it's easy to see that we must - brutality is brutality. Just as we wish to stop the killing, we should wish to stop all forms of sexual violence. Many more nuanced situations exist - and it's necessary to be sensitive to those traditions that are unlike our own. Of course, I would like the world to run according to my own ideals (you can call me Grand Empress of the Universe, thank you very much), but in reality I know we have to be more careful than simply imposing our ideas of right and wrong on other people around the world. That's what colonizers do.

(I think I need to go read some Edward Said. And some Simone deBeauvoir. Hell, let's throw in Judith Butler for the fun of it).

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