"A Mark Of Shame, Anywhere, In Any Country"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday was demanding an end to rampant sexual violence that has engulfed war-ravaged eastern Congo. The United Nations has recorded at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence against women and girls in the region since conflict erupted in 1996, something Clinton deplored as "one of mankind's greatest atrocities" before she arrived. "The entire society needs to be speaking out against this," she said. "It should be a mark of shame anywhere, in any country. . . ." Clinton came to Goma aboard a U.N. plane over the objections of some top aides who were concerned about security and logistics for the visit.

In Goma, Clinton was meeting with Congolese President Joseph Kabila in a tent at a compound on the shore of Lake Kivu. She also plans to meet with victims of the sexual violence and officers in the U.N. peacekeeping force that is deployed in the Congo. . . . "We have to speak out against the impunity of those in positions of authority who either commit these crimes or condone it," Clinton said.

(Emphasis supplied.)

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    Nice. (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:16:01 AM EST
    One of the consequences of having been raped in many cultures is to be socially ostracized - going from having low status to having no status, often forced out of the family home and onto the street.

    By talking to these women, she is giving them stature, making them real.  She might not be able to change anything for them in a concrete sense, but she can give them the sense that they matter, they are a Somebody, not a nobody.

    I hope she has the intestinal fortitude (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Pragmatist on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:28:41 AM EST
    to make the same statements in all parts of world.  But, I don't she'll be allowed to echo these comments in the islamic world.

    Shot across the bow.... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:07:49 AM EST
    "...anywhere, in any country."

    So, let's wait and see, shall we?


    I'll wait, but... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Pragmatist on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:29:08 AM EST
    I won't 'hold my breath'.

    Still...it's a major leap after (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:38:11 AM EST
    the last female SOS, who never said anything, anywhere that I can recall.

    Whatever happened to her, anyway?

    Back to piano lessons and academic pursuits?


    Female SOS (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:15:30 AM EST
    As SOS, Albright felt constrained. But in Hillary's auto biography, Albright was very encouraging of the stand and trips and speeches Clinton took as first lady. Basically I believe that with the diplomatic mission her hands were somewhat tied but as an unofficial goodwill ambassador, these things could be said by Clinton.

    Last female SOS (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:17:39 AM EST
    wasn't Albright.

    I think (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:24:57 AM EST
    We're trying to erase everything about the last 8 years - including Condoleeza.

    I think her forgetting (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:28:34 AM EST
    the last female SOS is illustrative of how much the last female SOS actually did as SOS.  We forgot she was even there.

    Sorry (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:33:26 AM EST
    Condi didn't do a thing. Albright did and encouraged Hillary to boot.
    I cannot think of Condi as SOS - what did she do on any matter? I mean besides lie to Congress.

    Albright (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 04:16:49 PM EST
    thousands of dead Iraqi kids was "a price she was willing to pay" for regime change.

    Effing spare me. Please.

    That said, kudos to Hillary. Now, if she can only go from the low handing fruit to the weapons profiteers/pimps that help keep situations like the Congo raging.


    Rape and rape as a weapon of war (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 04:30:37 PM EST
    is low hanging fruit?

    Calling it low hanging fruit (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 04:38:17 PM EST
    wasnt meant to minimize the seriousness of the problem, only to emphasize that we seem to have a history of acknowledging brutality in some places and acting as if it dosnt exist, when it does, in others.

    The Congo isnt a place where critiques are going to ruffle too many "trading partners" feathers.


    She had fabulous boots (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 11:06:44 AM EST
    Condi had the boots, doncha know? (none / 0) (#35)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 01:39:16 PM EST

    That's what I meant (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 03:27:40 PM EST
    But they were fabulous - can't deny her that!  :)

    You're so judgemental oldpro (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 02:03:43 PM EST
    She was a woman who had never given birth to a child calling extreme violence, dead bodies bloating in the streets, and civil war of all things......labor pains.

    That is a fact. Judgemental is (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 07:42:28 PM EST
    my middle name.  What the heck's the point of having good judgement if you don't apply it?

    Whether she goes there or not (none / 0) (#14)
    by CST on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:39:57 AM EST
    The world is still watching her now.

    And it's watching us...the US...as (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:49:57 AM EST
    we dither about the torture our own government has used...is using...even against its own citizens.

    Upping the ante on the US newfound tolerance for torture, Digby guestblogging at Glenzilla nails it on the rampant use of tasers as weapons of torture and even death...which then become the source of entertainment on You-Tube videos.

    Rape is torture which legions of men have found acceptable behavior...whether visited on women, other men or even children.

    Can we please recode that gene when it is identified?


    I find it very strange (none / 0) (#18)
    by CST on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:56:29 AM EST
    Rape is one of the things that men become vehemently angry about when discussing it theoretically about someone close to them.  But it happens so frequently.  And there is so often a blurry line of discussion when cases actually come out (the "asked for it" argument).  Granted - this type of more "blatant" rape is easier to have a gut reaction to, but date rape is still rape and it's all too common.

    I agree about U.S. policy.  Too much "do as we say not as we do" going on.


    I don't know what type of... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:33:38 AM EST
    fellas you ladies roll with but the ones I roll with are appalled by any and all violence against women...not just the women in our lives, and including date/acquaintance rape...force is force.

    Don't misinterpret our anger over false rape allegations as apathy about rape...its only because we find this heinous crime as sick and depraved as you do.


    Not all (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Spamlet on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 12:15:48 PM EST
    but some men become vehemently angry about even the idea of rape committed against the women who are close to them because on some level they view this crime as a crime against property.

    "Women's rights are human rights" (5.00 / 7) (#8)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:11:07 AM EST
    as HRC famously said in Beijing as First Lady, to acclaim and gratitude from women gathered there from around the world.  She never has let up on this cause, as a Senator and as a presidential candidate, and she has made a difference.  It's no surprise that she continues to do so -- and we can expect that she will do so after her stint as SoS.  It is one of her life's works.

    International Pressure (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:13:07 AM EST
    Needs to be mobilized against this atrocity. Good for Hillary to be so blunt about it.

    More Shaming (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 12:35:20 PM EST
    And later, when we interviewed a man who was forced to watch with his family as militiamen raped his wife and daughter, I fancied myself unflinching as he told us how he felt during the episode and how he kicked his wife out afterward. (I surprised myself with how little I let stories like this affect me while reporting there, despite the fact that I've now got a baby daughter.)

    But what did hit me -like a sucker punch to the gut - was the laughter.

    This man told me that the reason we had to talk with him in hushed tones out of earshot of any villagers was that other men would make fun of him if they found out that his family was raped.

    "They'd laugh at you?" I asked, incredulous. "Why?"

    He shrugged. That's just the way it is when you can't protect your wife and kids from rape in eastern Congo.

    You don't just become shamed. People don't just whisper about you and your family with pity. No, you actually become a laughing stock. Never mind that many of the men in the same village could be in the same position; like a fat kid on the playground, you're the subject of ridicule.


    "We believe there should be no impunity for the sexual and gender-based violence committed by so many -- that there must be arrests and prosecutions and punishment," said Hillary Clinton during a press conference with Congolese Foreign Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba in the eastern city of Goma.

    But in a vast, mountainous region where muddy tracks pass for roads, the underpaid and ill-equipped police forces do not have expensive four-wheel drives to get out to nab perpetrators of sexual violence. Even if they did, it takes hours to get to places just a few miles away. That's if you don't get stuck in the mud. Heavy rains make many roads impassable for weeks at a time. Also, police don't even have the paper to file official documents. And their salary is only $25 a month - a sum that often goes unpaid for months at a time.

    When police do make arrests, they rarely get convictions. This, many police and military officials told me, is because judges routinely are paid off or cajoled into releasing the suspected perpetrators.

    CS Monitor

    Well now I might know why she was (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 02:05:46 PM EST
    easily smidged off when she thought someone was asking her what President Clinton thought.

    My kids' school does a fundraiser (5.00 / 0) (#44)
    by coigue on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:52:27 PM EST
    every year for Mama Jeanne's orphanage in Goma. We're responsible for lots of the new infrastructure there including electricity, water and a wall around the property. The stories are heartbreaking.

    Here, coigue (5.00 / 0) (#47)
    by shoephone on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:46:01 PM EST
    NVLA Helps Congolese Orphans

    I just know Jeralyn will pop in after her scrumptious dinner to say "that link skews the site!"

    Stories like these are too hard for me to deal with anymore. The overwhelming barbarity of it all tends to make me feel so useless. Glad to know others are made of stronger stuff and can step in to help.

    well, (none / 0) (#3)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:35:26 AM EST
    Conflict erupted in 1996 and is considered "one of mankind's greatest atrocities". I agree, along with its African neighbor Rwanda where upwards of 800,000 were killed in the 1990's. BTW, who was president during that time and what was his wife's name? My point: Talk is cheap. Do something.

    What can we do.... (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:39:12 AM EST
    besides denounce it, provide some aid, and grant political asylum to any woman who wants outta there...we can't invade and occupy the continent.

    I agree, (none / 0) (#12)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:29:31 AM EST
    I'm not as smart as HRC, but talk is cheap. Figure out something. Remember, Pres. Clinton said Rwanda was his biggest regret. Okay, learn from that. Do something besides talking. Have the U.N. provide security. Something...

    Talking is doing a little something.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:44:07 AM EST
    bocajeff, rescuing as many women as Hill's plane can hold on the way home is a little something more.  There is no magic wand to make the horror go away.

    You've only got the rights you can defend, it sucks but thats the deal on earth, you're responsible for your own existence...the odds are so stacked against these ladies, but they need to get a militia going and start chopping off some d*cks.  Besides that I'm out of ideas, Hillary is smarter than me too:)


    I'm pissed off (none / 0) (#19)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:56:59 AM EST
    That we, as a society, think that talk is akin to doing something. Yes, it's a nice first step. But it's pretty close to an empty gesture.

    I don't know, start an underground railroad and get people out of there and into some type of refugee camp. Provide U.N. Security Forces to police. Bribe officials. Bomb buildings. Do anything besides speak and then leave.


    Good lord (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by lilburro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:18:05 AM EST
    "bomb buildings?"

    Sometimes dialogue is valuable.  Helps prevent us from bombing the sh*t out of countries.  Although I suppose it's true the dead can't rape each other.


    true (none / 0) (#34)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 01:05:00 PM EST
    I would rather speak and not accomplish anything of substance than take action in the hopes of fixing something. Worked well in Rwanda and the Balkans.

    I'd go for that (none / 0) (#21)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:01:40 AM EST
    if we get to take each and every female out of the country.

    It won't stop the rapes, murders and violence - but it will certainly lower the birth rate!

    (Never happen - we couldn't do it voluntarily.)


    You wouldn't send the SoS, then (none / 0) (#27)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:28:13 AM EST
    as her task is to talk.  She's our top diplomat, so she does diplomacy.

    If you want bombs, you want the Secretary of War (aka the Secretary of "Defense" in current parlance).


    I don't agree that Hillary talking (none / 0) (#42)
    by hairspray on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 07:37:51 PM EST
    about the shame of rape is "nothing." Recall what happened after her appearance in Bejing. She elevated the problem of women's rights all over the world.  In fact, many organizations began in countries to work for women's rights.  She mobilized thousands of women to start the dialogue for empowerment.  I cannot recall the site on which I read this.  I know that there is an organization tracking the progress.  I will google it and see if I can find it again.  Of course, in some countries this won't matter but in many places what she said did matter.  And I believe all movements come about when critical mass forms. I read Malcolm Gladwell's book on "The Tipping Point" and see the wisdom in his theory as it relates to things like this.

    Perhaps you don't understand (5.00 / 11) (#10)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:16:28 AM EST
    that speaking out for and even meeting with women who are considered invisible now in such countries, women with no status -- so less status than farm animals, which at least are valued as property -- is doing something that is not done in those societies?  The U.S. Secretary of State, a former First Lady and U.S. Senator and powerful person, says she wants to meet with these women -- and thus it is time when she will not be meeting with others who would seek the status that conveys.  It is a powerful statement.

    Or . . . what?  HRC should bring guns and threats?


    We could send Palin (2.00 / 1) (#22)
    by coast on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 10:04:43 AM EST
    over with a helicopter and a M-16 :)

    Okay (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:38:08 AM EST
    Then you have to agree that the Iraq venture was worthwhile.

    Strange way to make a point (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:38:50 AM EST
    Gawd, I hate starting my day (none / 0) (#17)
    by oldpro on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:53:16 AM EST
    this way.

    Happy Tuesday! (5.00 / 0) (#20)
    by CST on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:57:17 AM EST
    Link to our efforts. (none / 0) (#45)
    by coigue on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:54:47 PM EST

    asdf (none / 0) (#46)
    by coigue on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 08:55:37 PM EST