[TW: rape] I asked the Congolese women; ‘give me the 5 major issues affecting Congolese women today’. Rape was number 4. Political participation was number 1. Economic empowerment was number 2. Domestic violence was number 3. And they qualified it; the rape you see is because we don’t have women in high places to effect the change that needs to be done. No.2, if we were economically empowered, we wouldn’t be in abusive relationships and will know how to handle ourselves.
But outsiders expected rape to be number 1 because that’s the global image of Congolese women. One Congolese woman asked where people got the idea that rape was their major problem. Someone answered her “if you don’t say so, the West won’t give you aid”.
Congolese women wanted to show their fellow sister how they’ve been sustaining their children and communities in midst of the violence they lived in. By the time the white people arrived, they changed their tune: ‘help, I’ve been raped. I’ve been abused’.
They’ve figured you all out. That’s the stories you white people want to hear. You travel to cry. So they will make you cry. The media never goes into any community to pick stories of how you survived and what positive things are happening. A pressman once asked me if I’ve been raped during the Liberian war and when I answered no, he passed the mike over my head. So the easiest thing for those who need media attention or aid is to talk about their personal history and say they were raped.
This is a similar situation across the globe for migrants who wanted papers after war; every time they went to the US consulate and told the truth, they were denied. When they went and told a sad story, the counselor cried and granted them their papers.
Mighty Be Our Powers with Leymah Gbowee (youtube)
Western media and charity need to portray AfricanS as helpless and meek because that is the global image of Africa they want to sustain.
Reason #44546445980 I hate Western journalism: It is nothing but misery porn. I’ve had the misfortune of encountering many Western journalists, and they are first and foremost interested in only suffering and violence, and anything they can use to present their “subjects” as abject and savage or bestial in some manner. Never mind the comfort of those who have suffered, it is far more important to obtain those award-winning photos of that burnt flesh, the front-page story about your deep trauma.
And they will invade your privacy and put you in peril if they have to, to get it.
Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking when I finished rereading the UN mapping report on the conflicts in Congo, we never get the stories of those Congolese who are standing against all the violence, all we get are the stories about the victims and nothing about those Congolese who are daily heroes…