28 June 2012

Rape in the Military

Winter Soldier by Iraq Veterans Against the War, 2008, Excerpts

Dehumanization bred through training and combat stress not only leads to brutality against the “enemy,” it also leads to discrimination and brutality within the ranks. Women, gays and lesbians, and heterosexual men perceived as “weak” are often targeted.

When rape of sexual assault occurs within the military, reporting it is intrinsically difficult. Such incidents usually occur in a setting where the victim lives and works. In most cases, this means that victims must continue to live and work closely with their perpetuators, often leading to increased feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and being at risk for further victimization.  It is usually impossible to remain anonymous. If heterosexual women face barriers in reporting discrimination within the military, the situation is even worse for gay men and lesbians. 

27 June 2012

Rape of Rwanda - Pauline Nyiramasuhuko - Beatrice Munyenyezi

Rwanda: Ex-women's minister guilty of genocide, rape
24 Jun 2011
A former Rwandan women's minister has been sentenced to life in prison for her role in the genocide and the rape of Tutsi women and girls. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, is the first woman to be convicted of genocide by an international court. She was found guilty, along with her son and four other former officials, after a 10-year trial. Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the 1994 massacres.

Nyiramasuhuko, who was family affairs and women's development minister, was accused of ordering and assisting in the massacres in her home district of Butare in southern Rwanda. "The chamber convicts Pauline Nyiramasuhuko of conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, extermination, rape, persecution and violence to life and outrages upon personal dignity," read the ruling by the trial's three judges.  During the genocide she ordered women and girls to be raped and forced people onto trucks - they were driven away to be killed. Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who was in his early 20s at the time, headed a militia that carried out the massacres. He also raped women. Two nuns were found guilty of participating in the genocide by a court in Belgium.

Rwanda woman jailed in US for lying about genocide role
16 Jul 2013

A woman who lied about her role in Rwanda's genocide to gain refugee status in the US has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, who has been in the US since 1998, once commanded a roadblock where victims were picked to be murdered, prosecutors said. An estimated 800,000 people, mostly from the minority Tutsi ethnic group, were killed in Rwanda in 1994. Witnesses said that she had been a commander of a roadblock in the southern Rwandan city of Butare, where Tutsis were singled out to be killed. Her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, and his mother are both serving life sentences in Rwanda, where they were convicted of genocide charges.

Rape of Rwanda

The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo, 2007, Excerpts

A racial distinction had arbitrarily been created by Belgian and German colonists around the turn of the twentieth century to distinguish between people who for centuries had intermarried, spoke the same language, and shared the same religion. They forced all Rwandans to carry identification cards that declared them to be either the majority Hutu or the minority Tutsi, with the benefits of higher education and administrative posts going to the Tutsi who were taller and lighter-skinned and had more Caucasian features.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a Tutsi and a former social worker who lectured on women’s empowerment, was the only hope for a Tutsi village against the onslaught of the Hutus. However, she was moved by the widespread sense of the lower status of the Hutu women compared with the arrogance of the Tutsi women.

Pauline supervised a terrible trap, promising the Tutsi people that the Red Cross would provide food and shelter in the local stadium. Instead, armed Hutu thugs were awaiting their arrival, eventually murdering most of the innocent sanctuary seekers. Pauline gave the order that “Before you kill the women, you need to rape them.”

A young woman, Rose, was raped by Pauline’s son. Shalom announced that he had “permission” from his mother to rape Tutsi women. Rose was the only Tutsi allowed to live so she could deliver a progress report to God as the witness of the genocide. She was then forced to watch her mother being raped and twenty of her relatives slaughtered.

A UN report estimated that at least 20,000 women were raped during this brief period of horror, many of them killed afterward. Some were penetrated with spears, gun barrels, bottles or the stamens of banana trees. Sexual organs were mutilated with machetes, boiling water and acid; women’s breasts were cut off. Making matters worse, the rapes, most of them committed by many men in succession, were frequently accompanied by other forms of physical torture and often staged as public performances to multiply the terror and degradation. They were also used as a public way of promoting social bonding among the Hutu murderers. This shared emergent camaraderie is often a by-product of the male group rape.

How do we begin to understand the forces that were operating to make Pauline a new kind of criminal: one woman against enemy women? It became easier to encourage the mass murders and rapes of Tutsis by being able to view then as abstractions and also by calling them by the dehumanizing term “cockroaches,” which needed to be “exterminated.” Here is a living documentary of the hostile imagination that paints the faces of the enemy in hateful hues and then destroys the canvas.

Intended Consequences tells the stories of some of these women, victims of the sexual violence used as a weapon of war against them. Some 20,000 children were born as a result. Photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik photographed and interviewed 30 women and their families, and has produced a piece of incredible complexity.

26 June 2012

Rape of Berlin WWII

On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman, 2009, Excerpts

The German-Russian conflict during World War II is an excellent example of a vicious cycle in which both sides became totally invested in atrocity and rape. The incidence of rape appears to have been in the millions, resulting in one hundred thousand births from rapes in Berlin alone following World War II.

A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous, 2000
Foreword by Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Introduction by Antony Beevor

It is no accident that an extraordinary work like A Woman in Berlin has had a history that is no less amazing: first published in 1953, the book disappeared from view, lingering in obscurity for decades before it slowly reemerged, was reissued, and then became an international phenomenon – a full half century after it was written. The events described are extraordinary: the author, a woman living in Berlin, took meticulous notes of everything that happened to her as well as her neighbors and friends for late April to mid-June 1945 – a time when Germany was defeated, Hitler committed suicide, and Berlin was occupied by the Red Army.

This diary, written by a thirty-four-year-old experienced journalist, begins on Friday, April 20, four days after the opening ground bombardment. It was Hitler’s birthday. Soviet tanks had smashed their way through the German defenses and were starting to encircle the city. The first shells from long-range artillery would land in the northern suburbs that evening.

The earliest entries were literally notes from the underground, recorded in a basement where the author sought shelter from air raids, artillery fire, looters – and, ultimately rape by the victorious Russians. With nothing but a pencil stub, writing by candlelight since Berlin had no electricity, she recorded her observations, which were at first severely limited by her confinement in the basement and the dearth of information. In the absence of newspapers, radio, and telephones, rumor was the sole source of news about the outside world.

The diary continues for just over two months, until June 22, a period that covers the bombardment, the brief street fighting in most districts, Hitler’s suicide on April 30, the surrender of the last pockets of resistance on May 2, and then the occupation of the city by the Russian conquerors.

One of the most important aspects of this diary is its careful and honest reflection on rape in war. The rapes committed in 1945 – against old women, young women, even barely pubescent girls – were acts of violence, an expression of revenge and hatred.

First published anonymously 1954 in an incomplete English translation in the United States and then in 1959 Germany. The diary was highly controversial in Germany, where some accused it of “besmirching the honor of German women.”

The late 1940s and the 1950s, after the men returned from prison camps, were a sexually repressing era in which husbands reasserted their authority. Women were forbidden to mention the subject of rape. It remained taboo until the late 1980s, when a younger generation of women started to encourage their mothers and grandmothers to speak about their experiences.

Almost fifty years later, the complete book was reissued, again anonymously.

Europe WWII – Description by Jerzy Kosinski

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski, 1965, Excerpts

A band of mounted men rode up to the village. There were a hundred of them, perhaps more. They seemed to be one with their horses; they rode with marvelous ease, without any set order. The peasants instantly recognized them. They screamed in terror that the Kalmuks were coming and the women and children must hide before they could be seized. The Kalmuks rode at full gallop, bent over their horses, using their spurs and uttering hoarse cries. Wild confusion seized the village. It was too late for flight. The riders pulled up their horses between the houses. They jumped off their horses and tied them up to fences.

The Kalmuks were now dragging a half-naked woman out of a house. She struggled and screamed, trying in vain to catch her tormentors by the legs. A group of women and girls was being rounded up with horsewhips by some laughing riders. The fathers, husbands and brothers of the women ran about begging for mercy, but were chased away with horsewhips and sabers. A farmer ran through the main street with his hand cut off. Blood was spurting from the stump while he kept looking for his family.

Nearby the soldiers had forced a woman to the ground. One soldier held her by the throat while the others pulled her legs apart. One of them mounted her moved on top of her to shouts of encouragement. The woman struggled and cried. When the first was done the others assaulted her in turn. The woman soon grew limp and did not fight back anymore.

Still another woman was brought out. She screamed and begged, but the Kalmuts stripped her and threw her to the ground. Two men raped her at once, one in the mouth. When she tried to twist her head aside or close her mouth she was lashed with a bullwhip. Finally she weakened and submitted passively. Some of the soldiers were raping from the front and from the back two young girls, passing them from one man to the next, forcing them to perform strange movements. When the girls resisted, they were flogged and kicked.

The screams of raped women were heard in all the houses. One girl somehow managed to escape and ran out half naked, with blood streaming down her thighs, howling like a whipped dog. Two half-naked soldiers ran after her, laughing. They chased her around the square amidst the laughter and jokes of their comrades. Finally they caught up with her. Weeping children looked on.

New victims were being caught all the time. The drunken Kalmuks became more and more aroused. A few of them copulated with each other, then competed in raping women in odd ways: two or three men to one girl, several men in rapid succession. The younger and more desirable girls were nearly torn apart, and some quarrels broke out among the soldiers. The women sobbed and prayed.

A soldier threw a knife at one of the girls who was trying to crawl away. She was left bleeding in the dirt; no one paid any attention to her. Drunken Kalmuks handed women splattered with blood from one to another, beating them, forcing them to perform odd acts. One of them rushed into a house and brought out a small girl of about five. He lifted her high so that his comrades could see her well. He tore off the child’s dress. He kicked her in the belly while her mother crawled in the dust begging for mercy. He slowly unbuttoned and took down his trousers, while still holding the little girl above his waist with one hand. Then he crouched and pierced the screaming child with a sudden thrust. When the girl grew limp, he threw her away into the bushes and turned to the mother.

In the doorway of a house some half-naked soldiers were fighting a powerfully built peasant. He stood on the threshold swinging an ax in wild fury. When the soldiers finally overcame him, they dragged a fear-numbed woman out of the house by her hair. Three soldiers sat on the husband, while the others tortured and raped his wife.

Then they dragged out two of the man’s youthful daughters. Seizing a moment when the Kalmuk’s grip him loosened, the peasant jumped up and dealt a sudden blow to the nearest one. The soldier fell down, his skull crushed like a swallow’s egg. Blood and white pieces of brains resembling the meat of a cracked nut spilled through his hair. The enraged soldiers surrounded the peasant, overpowered him, and raped him. Then they castrated him in front of his wife and daughters. The frantic woman rushed to his defense, biting and scratching. Roaring with delight, the Kalmuks held her fast, forced her mouth open, and pushed the bloody scraps of flesh down her throat.