Sunday, May 08, 2005

WAR, RAPE, mothers and suffering--thoughts on Mother's Day, 2005

"It took Thérèse Mwandeko a year to save the money. She knew she could walk the first 40 kilometers of her journey, but would need to pay for a lift for the last 20. So she traded bananas and peanuts until she’d saved $1.50 in Congolese francs, then set out for Bukavu.

She walked with balled-up fabric clenched between her thighs, to soak up blood that had been oozing from her vagina for two years, since she had been gang-raped by Rwandan militia soldiers who plundered her village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Finally, she arrived at Panzi Hospital.

Here, Thérèse takes her place in line, along with 80 women, waiting for surgery to rebuild her vagina. Dr. Denis Mukwege, Panzi’s sole gynecologist and one of two doctors in the eastern Congo who can perform such reconstructive surgeries, can repair only five women a week. The air is thick with flies. It reeks from women with fistula: rips in the vaginal wall where rape tore out chunks of flesh separating the bladder and rectum from the vagina. Yet Thérèse, 47, is happier than she’s been in years......... ..............

............An estimated 30 percent of the women raped in Congo ’s war are infected with HIV; as many as 60 percent of the combatants are believed to have the virus. Shami also suffers continual pain in her shredded vagina, but has had no medical help since the rape. There is a hospital in Kibombo, with six wards: Four are empty; two each contain three iron bed frames, stripped of any mats.

The director, Jean-Yves Mukamba (the only doctor for this region of 25,000 square kilometers) knows he is surrounded by women suffering raging venereal infections, HIV, prolapsed uteruses, torn vaginas.

“I think it was a large majority of the women here who were raped, almost all of them. But I can’t help them with just my bare hands,” he says. When he decided, late last year, to consult with sexual-violence victims, more than 100 women turned up the first morning. “I had nothing, not even antibiotics, to give them.” Not that antibiotics would have helped much: “Most cases were traumatization of the genitals: These women had been raped with a tree branch or the barrel of a gun, or a bayonet. When you see a woman who was forced by 10 men -- the trauma…-- '--the rest HERE

women, rape, mothers and suffering-they all meld together in too many parts of this world. The same vagina that bears the life of one man into this world is so often destroyed by another one. The destruction of the organs that bears life is very often considered by him as a testimony to his alleged power. "I do this because I can."
The introduction of a god made in the image of a man, and a man only, which went hand in hand with the subjugation of the only other gender on this earth was one of the worst things that happened to humanity. It glorified the male sex, and glorified all of his worst attributes. Bring back the Divine Feminine--a balance is sorely needed in our world.

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