Saturday, September 16, 2006

For 'NOW', Moderate Muslims, And Blacks In America - Darfur Is A Real Problem!

Freshly displaced Darfuris await the arrival of the UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland in the rebel held town of Gereida in southern Darfur, 07 May 2006. Image Credit: AFP/Getty

For 'NOW', Moderate Muslims, And Blacks In America - Darfur Is A Real Problem!

Where are the National Organization for Women (NOW), moderate American Muslims (so-called), and African-American leaders (the usual suspects) when it comes to issuing statements and mobilizing political pressure and attention to the events in Sudan?

I hear nothing but crickets.

The silence is deafening.

Excerpts from the Washington Post -

For Darfur Women, Survival Means Leaving Camp, Risking Rape
By Craig Timberg - Washington Post Foreign Service - Saturday, September 16, 2006; Page A12

GRAIDA, Sudan, Sept. 15 -- The tall, light-skinned man reeking of sweat and cigarettes often gallops his horse right into the nightmares of Darelsalam Ahmed Eisa, 18. Each time, she said, he throws her to the ground, pushes up her skirt and forces himself inside her while muttering: " Abdah. Abdah. Abdah ."

Slave woman. Slave woman. Slave woman.

He was in her dreams just last night, she recalled, as real and horrifying in his green camouflage uniform as he was the day he raped her two months ago. But when Eisa awoke this morning, there was no time for terror, no time for tears. She covered herself in an orange and blue cloth, grabbed the family's ax and departed for the perilous Darfur countryside, out of the relative safety of a sprawling camp for people displaced by the violence in this region of western Sudan.

In the wilderness, Eisa can find grass for the donkeys and firewood for cooking. But it is also where government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed roam, terrorizing villagers. Violence and disease in Darfur have killed as many as 450,000 people since 2003, and an estimated 2 million have been forced to flee their homes
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Darfur, Sudan – Graphic Credit: Washington Post

The government and a rebel group reached a cease-fire agreement in May, but since then, rapes in and around camps for people displaced by the fighting have surged, aid groups and residents say. The International Rescue Committee has recorded more then 200 sexual assaults among residents of a single camp near Nyala, a town in South Darfur state, during a five-week period in July and August.

More and more often, women in Darfur face the starkest of choices: risk being raped by leaving the camps in search of firewood and grass, or starve. If they invite their brothers or husbands along to protect them, the Janjaweed will still rape the women, they say, and kill the men.

"It is better for me to be raped than for my brother to be killed," said Eisa, soft-spoken and round-faced, with hair braided into tight rows beneath her head scarf. She has two children, ages 2 and 5, but no husband. He divorced Eisa last year, she said, after she quarreled with one of his elder wives.
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After walking for about two hours, they had nearly reached the better grass when dozens of Janjaweed militiamen on horses and camels suddenly appeared, surrounding the young women.

Aziza tried to run but was caught within seconds and struck in the face. Eisa froze. Quickly and roughly, the men separated the two sisters and their friend, with a man taking each one to a secluded spot.

The tall, light-skinned man was riding a reddish-brown horse, Eisa said. He was clean-shaven and armed with a machine gun. "I will take you," the man told Eisa. "My wife needs a slave."

He then ordered Eisa to lie on her back, but she refused. She knew that if he raped her and the community learned of the attack, she would probably never be able to remarry.

Her defiance enraged the man. He aimed the gun at Eisa and shouted: "I will shoot you! I will shoot you!"

At that moment, a second Janjaweed man stepped in. "Don't waste a bullet on a woman!" he said. "Just throw her."

The tall man hurled Eisa to the dirt and crawled atop her.

A few minutes later, the rapes were over but not the ordeal. The Janjaweed tied the young women together at their wrists and beat them with their fists and the butts of their guns.
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The young women told their friends and relatives about the attack but not about the rapes. But over the next few weeks, gossip began to spread. Neighbors assumed the worst, about the attack, about Eisa, her sister and their friend.

"They scorn you. They laugh at you," Eisa said. "They look at you as if you are strange, as if they haven't seen you before."

The only good news came about two weeks later. After living in fear that the rape might have made her pregnant, Eisa's period arrived. The relief, she said, was overwhelming.

By the time Eisa reached the end of her story, she and her sister had arrived at the spot where they planned to collect firewood. With expert swings of the ax -- so hard Eisa's head scarf fell to her shoulders -- she and Aziza cut the largest branches off two trees, stripped the bark and bundled the still-moist wood.

With their donkeys long gone -- stolen in the Janjaweed attack -- the sisters hoisted the bundles onto their heads and began the long walk back to the camp beneath the relentless Darfur sun.

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