Can one person do anything about mass rape?

Cover of "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story o...

Cover via Amazon

Ever notice how we can feel quite helpless when we hear about evil on a mass level? We’ve all had times when we’d rather turn away from systemic evil because we can’t stand to look at what we cannot change.

But check out the story of one Edmund Dene Morel as told in King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (by Adam Hochschild, Houghton Mifflin, 1998). Most likely you’ve never heard of him or the mass destruction of 5-8 million Congolese during the reign of Leopold II, Belgian King who “owned” the Congo during the turn of the 20th century.

Instead of my summarizing this story, click the link above and read the story yourself (link goes to Amazon’s search inside, p. 1). You will see that one person who saw the problem of slavery and raping a country and did not turn away. Rather, he made it is work to tell the world and cause Americans and Europeans to rise up and force the government of Belgium to take control of that area away from their king.

Once again, the Congo is facing the destruction of some of its population–the women. The main method is not slavery but rape. The instigators are warring groups, Congolese and outsiders. The goal is to destroy by destroying families, spreading HIV and fear. Many women are raped multiple times.

What will we do?

Consider writing to your congressmen or the president or Sec Clinton to speak out about this problem. Also, you might consider giving to groups that are working in the area to care for these women and/or trying to change culture. Doctors without Borders (MSF), Amnesty International, American Bible Society, and many others are working in the area. And start with talking to your friends about this problem.

Unknown people can do much when we are willing to speak the truth.


Filed under Abuse, church and culture, Democratic Republic of Congo

3 responses to “Can one person do anything about mass rape?

  1. It always starts with one person brave enough to stand up to society’s widespread norms. Then come those who disagreed with those norms but originally didn’t have the courage to do anything about it. Then, they get more publicity. Then, some who originally agreed with the norms change their mind and join the cause. Then, they lobby for changes in laws.

  2. Scott Knapp

    I hope folks are persuasive on this matter. A good friend of mine is in leadership of an international aid association that focuses on the oppression and persecution of Christians in the Middle East. He met at the White House with Vice President Cheney some years ago, to talk about the atrocities taking place in some of the more “moderate, liberal” Middle Eastern nations (Saudi Arabia, UAE), and pleaded for the USA to take a stand with regard to foreign policy, economic incentives, etc., to persuade our supposed “allies” to take a harder look at remedying these social and religious ills….he came away from that meeting nonplussed and not impressed!

  3. Bruce Johnson

    Thanks, Phil. A good challenge.

    In case it’s of help or interest, here’s a few observations on the book you mentioned, and related books (good history and MORE inspiration, I hope):

    First, don’t forget to credit George Washington Williams, who sounded the alert even before Morel, but unfortunately, died (of TB, I think) before he could do more. I’m not sure what if anything Morel knew of Williams’s efforts, but if little or nothing, this is some encouragement to realize that, when we THINK we’re alone, others may also have taken or be taking action…

    Anyway, thanks for the reminder to put this on my reading list. I’ve intended to check it out ever since reading Hochschild’s similarly themed *Bury the Chains* –on the British efforts to end the slave trade — material on Granville Sharp, Wilberforce,, but especially a very interesting recounting of Thomas Clarkson’s role.

    Along the same lines, I recently completed (and highly recommend) William Hague’s excellent biography of William Wilberforce. (Next stop: Eric Metaxas on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.) Good to see these as real, struggling people who ACTED when they felt weak and their efforts it seemed pointless.

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