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Silence is the Enemy

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollJune 1, 2009 7:27 PM


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Sheril at the Intersection has put up a brave post, using her own experience with sexual assault to bring attention to the plight of victims of sexual violence in Africa and elsewhere. She and Dr. Isis are organizing a campaign of bloggers to urge people to speak out, write to Congress, and donate to charities that working to help victims of sexual violence. Rape is a problem no matter where it happens, but conditions in Africa have grown desperate, especially in the Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Liberia. In Liberia alone, over the course of the civil war, it is estimated that 75% of women were raped. Three out of four. Children are especially vulnerable: in Liberia, 28 percent of rapes involve children 4 or younger. These aren't typos. The numbers are from a recent column by Nicholas Kristof. Sexual violence isn't about sex; it's about power and domination, and in this case it's being used as an instrument of war. And it's nothing peculiar to Africa; rape has always accompanied war, and was a major part of violence against Muslims in Bosnia, not to mention Japan's invasion of China. It's an ancient tradition; as the Bible says in Zechariah 14:2:

For I [God] will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped.

Here is Kristof's report on Jackie, a 7-year-old girl who was raped by a security guard at her school. As Kristof says,

The evidence is overwhelming that the best way to deal with rape — whether in Darfur or Liberia, or even in the United States — is to demystify it, dismantle the taboos, and address it directly.

Let's do that.

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