I want to put great emphasis on the word used because to the families that many of these victims try to go back to that's what they are, used. Just as american culture dictates that it is rude to give someone a used item as a gift, it is considered bad in these countries to give a used woman for marriage. This stigma and unfortunate belief creates the kind of victim blaming and ostracizing that makes rape an effective weapon for destroying families and therefore morale. I had always known that rape and war existed side by side, that those conquering would often try to conquer all within sight, land and women. Men were killed, viewed as hindrances to the purpose of conquering, but women could be used for the furthering of it. Although I knew that this kind of thing happened, it never occurred to me that rape was being used as a weapon.
I was also quite shocked that I had never heard of the rape of Nanking and the atrocities that went on there, probably because other atrocities during that time period happened on a much greater scale. the description of the eleven year old girl who had been raped publicly for days on end still makes me shudder and I don't understand how people can commit these crimes to one another. And yet I somewhat understand the strategy. The pure inhumanity that the Japanese came into Nanking with made the Chinese troops leave before they even arrived. Their plan was to extinguish all hope, because hope is what makes people fight back. It is much easier to take over a hopeless city, than a resilient one. And yet when we look at Bosnia rape was used as more than an extinguisher of hope, it was used a tool of ethnic cleansing. I had never looked at rape this way, but after reading the article it made sense. These combatants use rape, use women, as a tool for achieving their ends and view them as no more than that, a tool, something to be cast aside when no longer useful.
America has not experienced invasion or sustained attacks on our turf for a very long time, we as U.S. citizens do not know what it is like to be invaded, to have an enemy occupying our cities. So we do not know what it is like to have rape used as a weapon of war. But I look at the women who have been victims of sexual assault here and the problems they face with victim blaming, and I can not imagine what it is like for women Nigerian women coming back from where they had been taken and being blamed for essentially being a P.O.W. But these women are not soldiers, they did not sign up to fight. They were taken and forced to fight to escape and then were rejected from their homes once they had done so.
Rape is a disgusting weapon, those who use it are essentially walking around torturing civilians and creating scars, mental and physical, that may never heal. Hopefully with time it will become a less useful weapon, like we are beginning to see in places occupied by Boko Haram and ISIS.