May 2006: Just Say Something
I rarely write anything serious here at Dorritville; it's just not that kind of place. Come on, there's a picture of me wearing a "Kick Me" sign and a bunch of drunk monkeys in a barrel on the homepage. Those images do not scream, or even say, "I am a great mind, take me and the things I say seriously." I also never want to sound like a self-righteous pompous ass, because that's one of the things I dislike most in the world. And the main reason is probably because, when it comes right down to it: I'm an idiot. But idiot or not, I feel the need to say something about what's going on in Darfur and how for the most part the world's governments, especially the US, are sitting around with their collective thumbs up their asses.
I realize by writing this I'm ruining my reputation for only caring about things that affect me, Dorrit: the anti guilty-white-liberal. But I'm sure I'll make up for it next month by writing about something completely self-centered, goofy, or just plain ridiculous. (Me being an Octaroon, for example. Or how I recently invented the "Dorco Sticky Stick, Subway Track Cell-Phone Retreiver.") Besides, sometimes you just have to risk your rep when it's for something important.
As far as why I'm going off topic, I honestly have absolutely no idea. Maybe it's because I seem to have given up sleeping like a normal person, so I have way too much time to think.
Maybe I've finally developed a social conscience. (Yeah, right; okay, just ixnay that one.) Maybe I'm sick of looking at personal ads and seeing pretentious women talk about their 600-thread-count sheets. (p.s., WHO CARES?!) Maybe I'm finally going to have the heart attack and my subconcious is trying to redeem me before I go. I really just do not know. One morning this was all here in my head and it needed to get out, so I wrote it down. (Unlike many things in my head, which should never be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.)
I'm not going to go into the whole history of Darfur and what's happening there, because I'm guessing if you're reading this, you already know. The mainstream media does seem to have finally realized this is something that needs coverage, so it's out there. Not as much as it should be, but even the media can't ignore a rally in DC attended by 15,000 people and celebrities. (Well, they could ignore it if it was a gay rally, but that's another issue you don't want to get me started on.)
However, all I'm hearing in most of this coverage is the broad term "genocide," as it relates to the Sudanese government-sponsored campaign of general violence and starvation. Not to say all that isn't horrible, but I wish they'd dig a little deeper into the evil that is the Janjawid militia and focus more on the deliberate and unmitigated campaign of violence against women. The mass rape of innocent women and girls and the cultural ramifications for these victims. Being raped or held as a sexual slave (this has happened to girls as young as eight) is just the beginning. After that they're usually ostracized from their society. Married women are often disowned by their husbands. Single women are considered damaged goods, and stand no chance in hell of ever getting married. Children of these rapes are often abandoned by their mothers, as they're considered a "child of the enemy." And some families, to avoid the possibility that their daughters may be raped and will therefore never bring in the usual "bride price," are selling their daughters earlier than is customary. And selling them to anyone who can pay the bride price, which means many of these child brides become the victims of abusive spouses.
These victims are now often completely alone. While in our culture we might not think being without a man is any big deal, this isn't Ohio, it's the Sudan. Men provide virtually all of the protection and economic support. Without one, you just don't stand much of a chance. Even if by some miracle all this violence ended today, these women and girls have no chance at a normal life ever again. And of course, you still get the Sudanese government basically refusing to acknowledge this mass campaign of rape and torture against women is even happening. Also, as hard as it is to believe, sometimes the rape and sexual violence is continuing in the refuge camps in Chad, where the women thought they would get safety and sanctuary.
This has been going on since 2003 and at least 300,000 people have died since then, but it's only recently that this crisis has been getting the coverage and attention it deserves. But the situation keeps getting worse. Yes, Bush and Congress have declared Darfur to be genocide. That's super, but they all need to do more than talk. Especially considering that we've already spent, and continue to waste and throw billions of dollars down the rat hole that is the "war" in Iraq.
We, the people, (man, that sounds familiar...) need to get on their asses and make them do it. You can make a difference, even if you just send a letter to your representatives in Washington. When they get enough of them, it will matter. Urge them to pass the strongest version of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. Urge them to ensure that adequate food is provided. Urge them to pass the Biden/DeWine amendment. Urge them to kick the UN's ass to pass a resolution creating a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, to finally do what the African Union's isn't able to. And urge them to ensure that there are enough properly trained healthcare workers to care for rape survivors.
When I started writing this I really wasn't sure where it was going, and quite frankly, I'm still not. I think I just felt the need to actually say something. And to say something in a public space where there's a chance people will see it, and read it, and it might make some small molecule of difference in the big, scary picture that is Darfur.
If you have money, donate some. If you have time, donate that. Even if you just read this and think about it, and then say talk about it to someone else you know, that's something. It's all these small, seemingly insignificant molecules that can join together and make one giant-ass molecule. A molecule big enough to get the US and other world governments to finally put a stop to this.
Just say something. And you've made a difference.