Mi Vida en San Francisco

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
February 28, 2009, 12:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“The Greatest Silence:  Rape in the Congo” is by far one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen.  In all honesty, I do not think there are any words I could say that would accurately portray the atrocities in this film let alone what is going on in Congo right now.  I saw this film at the annual USF Human Rights Film Festival and after walking out of the theater I was left in state of shock.  I strongly encourage you to see this film because I believe that awareness for this issue is key to change.


            In this film, the director, Lisa Jackson, travels through the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to investigate the increasing reports of rape. In Congo, rebel militias use rape as means of humiliation and intimidation, but even more noticeable, rape is used as a weapon of war.  The rape victims tell chilling stories about unimaginable mental and physical experiences.  Even more disturbing, Jackson interviews rapists who think that their actions are justified due to the nature of Congo’s civil war.  Some of the soldiers reported raping twenty to thirty women in last year alone.  Its almost like rape has become socially acceptable to soldiers, in the sense that it’s becoming a way of life.  Jackson documents the shameless and uncaring attitudes of soldiers, government officials and UN peacekeepers in their unwillingness to make major social changes in this country.  It’s appalling and yet I could not help but ask the question: What can we do?


Maudi Mukenge

Maudi Mukenge



            After the film, Maudi Mukenge, a native of Congo and the Africa Program Director for the Global Fund for Woman, led a Q&A session about the issues.  She said how she was “sick and tired” of how awareness is spreading but no action is taking place.  I agree with Mukenge in the sense that action needs to be done, but I also believe that awareness is a major factor that instigates action.  I went to this film because it was for an assignment.  I do not think I would have gone otherwise because I simple did not know about it.  The more people who know leads to collective action that might make a difference.


So to all my friends, family, and professors reading this post, I encourage you to watch this film.  It’s something that you will not forget.  

Film Web Site

Film Trailer

Helping Women Survivors of War





7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Will definitely make watching this film a priority….

Comment by Sara

First off,

Nice tweet. It caught my attention.

Second off,

I understand what you are saying. I recently read a book (name escapes my mind right now) that told gruesome stories of rape and torture of girls and women in Africa…It’s really hard stuff to take in. Especially because, like you said, your left in this position of “what can I do?” Action is obviously necessary. I still get stuck. What action can be done from America. I mean Africa is far far away. Awarness is key. But now that I am aware where do I go from here? I just can’t figure it out. I want to help. These acts are atrocities and need to be stopped. Films like these help spread awareness. Maybe the film’s sequel can help spread action.

Great review of the film. You told me all I needed to know. Like Sara said I will definitely make watching this film a priority.

Comment by chrisusf

I couldn’t agree with you more. After seeing this movie, I felt so bad. I really wanted to do something and make some kind of difference. The film gave little options of what you could do to contribute to the cause. The major players (U.S, Russia, China) involved with this conflict are very powerful and sometimes I feel that there is nothing I could do that would significantly make a difference.

On the other hand, I did a little research and found that there are some petitions that you can sign. If you click on the link “TAKE ACTION NOW” it will direct you to the IVAWA petition sponsored by Joe BIden and Richard Lugar. The petition is for a prevention fund to help end violence against woman.

I know it’s not much but at least it is something. It only takes five minutes to sign. Also, I think in the long run that spreading awareness is important.

Comment by smhernandez

The use of films to spread awareness of issues, is a strong medium, because it often tells the message way stronger than e.g an written article, through its pictures and sounds. Audiences often walk out off the cinema in shock wanting to do something to help. But as Chris said, what do you from there and after a while we forget. Awareness is the key to make something happen, but a film alone while not make enough people aware, not a sequel either. The key is to make a whole nation or nations aware. You can go down there yourselves or with a group of people and maybe help a few, however it will not fix the problem. So I agree with you. The only thing the regular man in the street can do, without changing their life around, is to help spread the word, therefore the “Take Action Now” link provided by you, is a good option. By the way you have already helped spreading awareness to at least 3 people already through you blog post about the film.

Comment by smicksmack

Wow I had no idea the extent to which this was happening. I have to say the way you chose to word your argument is what makes me want to see this film. I could tell that this was a film that really grabbed your attention and im very curious now.

I felt the same way about a lack of “call to action” when I saw Taxi to the Dark Side. How do you think issues like these can evoke a call to action? Ive been wondering that myself and it seems harder than it sounds.

Overall great post and the design of your blog is awesome especially with the grass as your header.

Comment by rpkerr

I’m really glad someone made this movie. I agree with smicksmack, it seems to take a movie to grab the attention of our news saturated culture. Violence against women in war time is not a new concept. For hundreds of years rape has been used not just as a means of disrespecting women, but moreso a means of disrespecting their husbands, fathers, brothers and families. A raped woman had been “contaminated” by someone else, she would never be the same to her husband again.
Culturally I think it’s so important to understand the circumstances that allow for this behavior. War seems to foster an environment of sexual abuse. There must be some reason why. I’m glad this film got people talking about it. I just hope people walked out of the theater not just thinking about the Congo, but the world.

Comment by melstrikesback

i agree with everyone’s comments, especially smicksmack who writes, “By the way you have already helped spreading awareness to at least 3 people already through you blog post about the film.” consider that 4.

Comment by david silver

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