By Kathy Barnhill
I am writing to continue the dialog about violence against women that was initiated by Suchitra Samanta in her commentary “Syrian forces rape with impunity” (Nov. 26). The brutal, systematic rape that she describes in Syria has been classified in recent years as “rape with excessive violence” and it is a particularly effective war tactic, designed to demoralize and subdue entire communities. I appreciate Samanta’s article with its documentation of the atrocities being committed in Syria because, without awareness about REV to prompt international outrage, this problem will become endemic not only in Syria, but in all war zones.
The horror that is occurring in Syria has been prevalent in Africa for more than a decade, yet it has barely been noticed by the international community. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is now known as the “rape capital of the world” because of the pervasiveness of rape with excessive violence committed by the various rebel and renegade factions there. In the DRC, women, and even young girls, are dragged into the brush, raped repeatedly, mutilated with penetration by objects including tree branches, knives and even guns that are fired into their vaginas. Women who are pregnant have had their wombs slashed and the baby extracted and killed. Women are branded with knife slashes to identify them as “belonging” to the rapist’s group.
Barnhill is a Roanoke area resident. She is a family nurse practitioner with Physician Associates of Virginia.