South Sudan is not a country we often think about. One of the poorest countries in the world, it has been undergoing a vicious civil war for 5 years, a war that is as brutal as any war. As is often the case in these kinds of conflicts, rape is a daily occurrence, mass rape wielded as a weapon to intimidate, conquer, punish, instill fear. Rare is the woman who has not been raped, in a culture where the shame and stigma rape brings is enough for many to be thrown out of their home and ostracized. This is rape at it most violent Women are thrown on the ground, usually rough ground, and violated in the coarsest ugliest way by drunken soldiers from the other side while being told that if they scream they will be killed. Besides the psychological trauma, there are physical pains associated with back injuries and having been seized so violently tissues are torn. Sometimes they get pregnant as a result of the rape. While many do not talk about their experience, in a UN refugee camp, they have begun to talk, at times using the third person to describe what happened. And once in a while there is touching story like the story of Cecilia who told her husband, and his response was that as bad as it was at least she had not been killed and permanently taken from him.
In the middle of the #MeToo movement I think it may be useful for us to think of how sexual mistreatment is practiced in other cultures. We have differing standards as to sexual behavior and are able to stand up and say Time’s Up, but women in many countries, and particularly in war zones such as South Sudan do not have that right—or is it privilege?