The invisible genocide of women

Video Link.

The recently-launched Women Under Siege website is a new project of the NYC-based Women’s Media Center, and features a number of powerful essays and features by women, about sexual violence against women. There's an account by CBS News correspondent Lara Logan, who survived a sexual assault while covering uprisings in the Middle East; another about covering sexualized war in Congo by Lynsey Addario, who survived the same.

In this post, I'd like to draw special attention to a feature on the site about a subject with which I have personal familiarity: violence against indigenous women in Guatemala. Though the country's long civil war is over, the femicidio is not. Snip:

More than 100,000 women were raped in the 36 years of the Guatemalan genocide in which at least 200,000 people died. In this video, photojournalists Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita interview survivors and document the ongoing forensic and legal investigation that has just indicted former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt.

There are so many powerful stories on the Women Under Siege website. Below, a photo by Ms. Addario, from Congo: "Lwange, 51, with her daughter, Florida, who had been raped the week before this photo was taken in 2008. The child had screamed at the time, then bled. With her vagina and her young psyche damaged, Florida would no longer speak."


  1.  Huh?  I’m confused, the title mentions genocide (that is the killing of people usually with racist overtones) but the text is all about rape ( a serious, but completely different issue).

    Which is it?

    1. Genocide is not just extermination, but destruction or dispersal of any ethnic group. Systematically imposing unwanted genetic material on a population definitely qualifies.

    1.  One would think that problem would work itself out in a few generations, with the men dying off with out procreating.

  2. Maybe everyone’s getting tired of this question, but what kind of fucked up world is this where people are capable of doing stuff like this?

    And as far as the hairsplitters on the question of genocide go, there are fates far worse than death.  To obliterate one’s mind and make useless the body are enough to cause serious damage to any race of human.  Such trauma extends through generations.  The girls born of these women will never be allowed to feel safe and secure.

    I’m devastated to hear news like this.

  3. This is horrible and tragic and indefensible.  Nevertheless, I think the use of the word “genocide” is getting overused.  The Nazis clearly intended to wipe out entire ethnic groups (Jews, Roma), similarly the Turks with their Armenian populations, the Serbs with Muslims, and then the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda . . . .   I don’t believe the rape and violent subjugation of a minority necessarily constitutes an attempt to wipe them out.  But I guess that’s just pedantry.

    That said, it’s hard to think humanity has come very far in our few thousand years of “civilization.”   Advances in technology and art sometimes seem to be just window dressing to obscure how violent we really are.

    1. Ethnic cleaning is perhaps a better term. However, the desired ends are often the same.  One is an attempt to wipe out a group by killing all of the members of that group, the other is an attempt to wipe out a group by destroying their cohesiveness and spirit, and forcing them to raise the offspring of their enemies.

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