African Militia is Gang-Raping Other Men
Warring militias in Congo have grown tired of raping women - or have raped all the women - and have now turned to beating then raping other men!
According to Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, United Nations officials and several Congolese aid organizations, the number of men who have been raped has risen sharply in recent months, a consequence of joint Congo-Rwanda military operations against rebels that have uncapped an appalling level of violence against civilians, reports the New York Times.
Aid workers struggle to explain the sudden spike in male rape cases. The best answer, they say, is that the sexual violence against men is yet another way for armed groups to humiliate and demoralize Congolese communities into submission.
The male rape cases span several hundred miles and possibly include hundreds of victims. The American Bar Association, which runs a sexual violence legal clinic in Goma, said that more than 10 percent of its cases in June were men.
Brandi Walker, an aid worker at Panzi hospital in nearby Bukavu, said, “Everywhere we go, people say men are getting raped, too.”
But nobody knows the exact number. Men here, like anywhere, are reluctant to come forward. Several who did said they instantly became castaways in their villages, lonely, ridiculed figures, derisively referred to as “bush wives.”
Since being raped several weeks ago, Kazungu Ziwa, pictured, has not shown much interest in practicing animal medicine, his trade for years. He limps around (his left leg was crushed in the attack) in a soiled white lab coat with “veterinaire” printed on it in red pen, carrying a few biscuit-size pills for dogs and sheep.
“Just thinking about what happened to me makes me tired,” he said.
The same is true for Tupapo Mukuli, who said he was pinned down on his stomach and gang-raped in his cassava patch seven months ago. He is now the lone man in the rape ward at Panzi hospital, which is filled with hundreds of women recovering from rape-related injuries. Many knit clothes and weave baskets to make a little money while their bodies heal.
But he is left out.
“I don’t know how to make baskets,” he said. So he spends his days sitting on a bench, by himself.
The male rape cases are still just a fraction of those against women. But for the men involved, aid workers say, it is even harder to bounce back.
“Men’s identity is so connected to power and control,” Brandi said.
And in a place where homosexuality is so taboo, the rapes carry an extra dose of shame.
“I’m laughed at,” Tupapo said. “The people in my village say: ‘You’re no longer a man. Those men in the bush made you their wife.’ ”
Hence another reason we won't be going to Africa anytime soon.