Congo. You may know it as, most recently, that place where Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said (when asked “What does Mr. Clinton think [about a particular issue] through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?”): “My husband is not Secretary of State. I am.” A place where a diplomat, per Andrea Mitchell, “is expected to keep her cool, despite the heat, the humidity, and bad hair days.”
It’s also the place (specifically, eastern Congo) the UN calls “the rape capital of the world,” something Sec. Clinton addressed there today (something that, unlike I’m Secretary of State-Gate, isn’t likely to produce rounds of cable news consideration — fifteen mentions on MSNBC since midnight —or make the New York Post’s front page tomorrow). It’s also the place from which Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post Foreign Service filed this haunting report yesterday:
And so as the sun dropped behind the soaring jungle here one recent day, little girls, mothers and grandmothers began heading home, some closing curtains and padlocking wooden doors. It was time, they explained, to lock themselves indoors.
“To avoid getting raped, after 6 p.m., women are not allowed to go out of the house,” said Maria Bitondo, who said she was among three women attacked by a soldier last month. “With the soldiers here, no woman is safe to go out and walk. We do not even go to the bathroom at night.”
Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.