The XX Factor

Rape Redux

The Washington Post has a heartbreaking story today about the epidemic of rape in the Congo . Soldiers, supported by the United States and the U.N., who are supposed to be protecting the people from rebels, instead scour the countryside for women to rape-old women, young girls-and spreading terror and disease. The horror is compounded by the fact that this is not a new story. In 2005, a little-noticed report came out detailing the systematic rape and exploitation committed by U.N. peacekeepers against the Congolese people: “Peacekeepers as predators,” in the words of writer Joseph Loconte . This followed another little-noticed report on the activities of U.N. peacekeepers around the world that made it clear many would be better described as United Nations rapecommitters. Some “peacekeeping” units appeared to be simply rings of pederasts who hired and protected one another as they ravaged vulnerable people. Humanitarian aid workers were also found to participate in such atrocities. Hillary Clinton is in the Congo, speaking out about these crimes. Does anyone believe it will make any difference?

Photograph of a Congolese rape victim preparing for surgery after a rape left her seriously injured by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images.