FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Rape Culture Finds Its All-American Poster Boy

I don’t know if it’s irony, synchronicity, or just a coincidence.  Whatever it is, there it was on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times.  At the top of the page was the headline: “Votes Secured to Confirm Kavanaugh.” Sure enough, by early Saturday afternoon, the US Senate had narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, giving the Supreme Court a solid conservative majority for the first time in fifty years.  God help us all.

As my eye traveled further down the page, it came across a much smaller headline below the fold: “Nobel Peace Prize Is Awarded to Two Who Fight Rape in War.”  Sharing the prize this year are a Yazidi woman from Iraq, Nadia Murad, and a Congolese physician, Dr. Denis Mukwege.  Ms. Murad and Dr. Mukwege are being honored, in the prize committee’s words, “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

The Kavanaugh confirmation process has presented one gross indecency after another.  There was the nominee himself, a boozy frat boy credibly accused of sexual assault by no fewer than four women.  There was the appalling spectacle of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s superannuated White Republicans, no doubt envious of Kavanaugh’s ability to achieve an erection, grilling Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who had courageously stepped forward to identify Kavanaugh as the man who had sexually assaulted her in high school.  And there was Gender Judas Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine, who betrayed every woman in America by voting along with the Senate Republican Boys’ Club to approve Kavanaugh.  Rape culture triumphs again.

From the disgusting spectacle of the Kavanaugh hearings, one turns with pleasure to two people who are fighting on behalf of women. The contrast between Brett Kavanaugh and Nadia Murad and Dr. Mukwege could not be greater.  Dr. Denis Mukwege, 63, is a gynecological surgeon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who the New York Timessays: “has treated thousands of women in a country once called the rape capital of the world.”

It is Nadia Murad I intend to concentrate on, however.  Nadia Murad lived in the Yazidi village of Kocho in Iraq.  In 2014, ISIS captured Ms. Murad’s village.  ISIS separated the male and female villagers, killed the males who refused to convert to Islam, including six of Ms. Murad’s brothers, and carried the women away into sexual slavery.  Nadia was given to an ISIS judge who subjected her to repeated rape (Senate Republicans would regard this as perfectly acceptable judicial conduct). Nadia’s first escape attempt failed. She was recaptured, and the judge turned her over to by raped by his guards.

She escaped in November 2014.  Since her escape, she has traveled the world as a tireless advocate for rape victims.  She has addressed the UN Security Council, the US House of Representatives, and the UK House of Commons.  Ms. Murad was the UN’s first goodwill ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

“Rape has been used throughout history as a weapon of war,” Nadia Murad writes.  We call this “weaponized rape.”  This is about destroying souls as well as bodies.  Rape constitutes a war crime, but, as with other war crimes, the perpetrators are too seldom punished.  Rape is so common a tool of war that we have time for only a couple of illustrations.  Researcher Gina Marie Weaver has found that rape of Vietnamese women by US soldiers was “widespread” and an “everyday occurrence” during the American war in Indochina.  Professor Weaver adds that male American troops now direct their sexual violence at the women serving with them.  In Syria’s civil war, an uncounted number of women have been raped in the prisons and detention centers of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Republic.  In time, Assad’s regime would videotape the rapes and send the videos to the rebels.

The elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a catastrophe for women, workers, gays, Blacks, and Latinos.  The Republicans now form a majority of the Court and can achieve their long sought-after goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, thus eliminating women’s right to choose.

Sexual justice will suffer in other ways.  The Bill Cosby case is still the exception, rather than the rule.  Too many rapists are either never prosecuted or, like Brock Turner, are given no more than a slap on the wrist.  Women who kill their abusers are jailed.  Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court will do nothing to alter these facts.

Where does this leave women?  There is still an enormous gap between how a male-dominated world treats women and girls and the dignity they deserve.  Nadia Murad is working to close that gap.  As she writes in her 2017 memoir The Last Girl:  “I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.”

More articles by:

Charles Pierson is a lawyer and a member of the Pittsburgh Anti-Drone Warfare Coalition. E-mail him at Chapierson@yahoo.com.

February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
Bruce E. Levine
“Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette
Lisi Krall
This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That
Stephanie Savell
Mapping the American War on Terror: Now in 80 Countries
Daniel Warner
New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon
Russell Mokhiber
With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
Elliot Sperber
For Your Children (or: Dead Ahead)
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail