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Somebody Else's Hell

August 30, 2007

Standing beyond the security gate at Palm Beach International Airport last week, I mulled around the overcrowded boarding area. There were no seats left in front of the tiny gate to sit, so I pulled my briefcase along, window shopping in small boutiques across from the terminal. I had already bought myself dinner to eat on my nonstop flight back to Washington DC, where I am now in graduate school, and I was mentally planning what I would accomplish on the two hour flight.

“I’m debating whether or not I should get a magazine,” I commented to my mother when she called a few minutes later. “But I have work to do.”

“Just buy the magazine,” my mother goaded. “It’s only a two hour flight.”

I knew her implication. I have always been fiercely driven and conscientious—sometimes to the exclusion of enjoying small indulgences. My mother knows I always write on flights and her response suggested that I really wouldn’t get that much done anyway.

I took her advice and ten minutes later, I was reading Glamour.

I devour fashion magazines, so not surprisingly, I had swallowed most of the 418 page September issue before my flight landed. There was the nonsense I skipped, of course—Top 10 Sex Questions Answered (Umm, virgin here…), the interview with that person I had never heard of, and then, an article or two whose titles didn’t grab me.

Tonight, though, wrapped in the warmth of my favorite sweatpants and eager to procrastinate just a little bit longer from schoolwork, I snuggled into the white cotton decorative pillows on my bed and started tackling the two articles I had overlooked earlier. Not fifteen minutes later, I was wiping my tears, gasping for breath, and shivering from the sudden cold that surrounded me.

The article, “Women left for dead—and the man who’s saving them,” had left me horrified and startled and shocked that I never knew about the atrocities happening in the Congo. I mean, it’s not like I don’t refresh compulsively or watch Robin and Company (Yes, I know…what a nerd I am) on Headline News as I get dressed in the mornings. I do!

The article relayed the background of civil turmoil and fighting in the Congo, then personal accounts of women who are brutally raped and assaulted--not as a part of the depravity of an oversexualized and demoralized culture, but as a war tactic.

Even though the incidence of rape has existed since Bible times and before, what struck me was the commentary that accompanied the nightmarish accounts. The featured ob-gyn (women's health doctor) interviewed for the article said, “When you rape a woman, you destroy life and you destroy your own life. Animals don’t do this. When a pigeon has sex with another pigeon, it is kind. I am wondering how man has the power of such destruction.”*

(Continued Below...)

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