The Cycle Continues

THE CYCLE CONTINUES
By Jessica Akunna, Daily Targum

Daily Targum , Rutgers Univ, New Jersey
November 10, 2006 Friday

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.

Approximately 12 years ago, cries from a foreign land went ignored
for about 100 days. Women were raped and murdered. Families were
systematically butchered and erased. The underlying reason for these
atrocities in Rwanda was that they were born Tutsi. Films such as
Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April brought to light these unfortunate
events to many people who never knew such a past existed.

Sadly, this genocide in Rwanda removed 800,000 individuals from
the earth.

It is now 91 years after the Armenian genocide, 62 years after the
gruesome Holocaust in Europe and 12 years after the crisis in Rwanda.

In our world’s dark history, these three events have something
obviously in common — they ended the freedom to live because of one’s
cultural identity. It is now 2006 and currently a similar cry permeates
out of the Western region of Sudan. It is quite visible — we see it
bubbling through our television sets, in our newspapers and across
the Internet. The Janjaweed, an Arab militia in Sudan, is responsible
for killing 400,000 and counting ethnic black Africans in Darfur.

Images of bloodshed and bodies on sand paved roads reappear in my
head when I think about the events going on so far away. Vibrant
colored scarves cover women as they sit with their babies in their
hands. However, through all that color, there is no life in their eyes
because they sit with the realization they will never see their loved
ones again. And to add insult upon injury, many have been raped at the
campsites where they have come for refuge. Unfortunately, because of
understaffing and a lack of security, incidents of rape and acts of
sexual violence are severe occurrences at the refugee camps. Recently,
African Union troops have been ordered to leave firewood patrols
where they usually escort women to retrieve necessities such as
firewood, water and food. With a lack of security, women and girls
are increasingly being raped. The act of sexual violence is such a
traumatizing experience because it hurts one beyond the physical and
it can be detrimental and damaging to one’s psyche. With a lack of
counseling centers and support groups, who is actually hearing the
woes of these women? How are these women coping with all the madness?

As a member of the human race, a college student and black woman,
what can I, or rather we, as individuals, do to help resolve this
complex situation miles and miles away? U.S. Sen. Barack Obama,
D-Ill., has said on a recent episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that
we should write to our congressmen to voice our concerns. Currently,
legislators are working on a law that will protect civilians in Darfur,
as well as protect foreign aid workers. Although it may seem like a
slow start, it is better to be active rather than inactive.

This means we have to raise some kind of consciousness because as
human beings, we all have the right to live and be free from sexual
degradation.

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