This essay seeks to understand why the discourse of human rights documentaries, reports, narratives, and films gives agency to some victims and silences the voices of others. Through the examination of human rights discourse on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the essay examines how political manipulation and the rhetoric and genre of human rights discourse stifle the narratives on the violence and trauma of the Congolese population. It seeks to understand why the rape narratives of women of some nations effectively elicit empathy and convey the violence, trauma, and genocide of a people, while the rape of women, children, and men in the Congo is met with indifference. Through the Anglophone and Francophone writings of Baenga Bolya's La profanation des vagins (The Profanation of Vaginas), Marie Béatrice Umutesi's Fuir òu mourir au Zaïre (Surviving the Slaughter), Doctors Without Borders' R D Congo: Silence, on meurt (D. R. Congo: Quiet, We're Dying), and Human Rights Watch's Shattered Lives, Seeking Justice, and The War within the War and through Terry George's film and book Hotel Rwanda, this study discusses the ideological nature and the political malleability of African memorial sites, which are already othered within the Western imagination. It also analyzes how the rape of Congolese females becomes visible solely when it is inscribed within Western feminist discourse and shows how rhetoric, intercultural interpretations, and style impact the reception of narratives of pain.
When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak: Narratives of Violence and Rape in Congo (DRC)
Ngwarsungu Chiwengo; When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak: Narratives of Violence and Rape in Congo (DRC). Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2008; 28 (1): 78–92. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-2007-057
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