This morning, I read a story in the Globe about wartime rape in the Congo, where thousands of women — from age eight to age eighty — are undergoing surgery for vaginal fistula as a result of violent gang rapings. According to the article, one in three women in the Congo have been thusly raped, and hospitals have been astounded by the number coming in for vaginal reconstructive surgery. But what is perhaps most astouding — and certainly most inspiring — is the response among African women:
In March, for instance, hundreds of women stripped naked in the center of Goma and challenged thousands of dumbfounded onlookers, mostly men.
“If you are going to rape us, rape us now because this must stop today,” Mama Jeanne Banyere, head of the Federation of Protestant Women in Goma, recalled telling the crowd.
As the men watched, the women chanted that they would no longer accept rape in the community. They demanded health care for women suffering from fistula, who were being abandoned by husbands and ostracized by the community.
“So many women have it, and so many were raped. Some were even raped by men sticking branches and guns up their vaginas,” Banyere said. “We couldn’t just cry.. . . We had to fight back.”
Then I turned the page to find an article about Silicon Valley workers protesting outsourcing. The photograph was of a software engineer holding a sign which featured a red diagonal line going through the words “War on Nerds.”
Somehow, in comparison, it just seems… whiny.