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Gang rape is terrifying anywhere, but particularly so here. Women who are raped here are often ostracized for life, even forced to build their own huts and live by themselves. In addition, most girls in Darfur undergo an extreme form of genital cutting called infibulation that often ends with a midwife stitching the vagina shut with a thread made of wild thorns. This stitching and the scar tissue make sexual assault a particularly violent act, and the resulting injuries increase the risk of H.I.V. transmission.
Sudan has refused to allow aid groups to bring into Darfur more rape kits that include medication that reduces the risk of infection from H.I.V.
The government has also imprisoned rape victims who became pregnant, for adultery. Even those who simply seek medical help are harassed and humiliated.
On March 26, a 17-year-old student named Hawa went to a French-run clinic in Kalma and reported that she had been raped. A French midwife examined her and confirmed that she was bleeding and had been raped.
But an informer in the clinic alerted the police, who barged in and - over the determined protests of two Frenchwomen - carried Hawa off to a police hospital, where she was chained to a cot by one leg and one arm. A doctor there declared that she had not been raped after all, and Hawa was then imprisoned for a couple of days. The authorities are now proposing that she be charged with submitting false information.
The attacks are sometimes purely about humiliation. Some women are raped with sticks that tear apart their insides, leaving them constantly trickling urine. One Sudanese woman working for a European aid organization was raped with a bayonet.
Doctors Without Borders issued an excellent report in March noting that it alone treated almost 500 rapes in a four-and-a-half-month period. Sudan finally reacted to the report a few days ago - by arresting an Englishman and a Dutchman working for Doctors Without Borders.
Those women who spoke to me risked arrest and lifelong shame by telling their stories. Their courage should be an inspiration to us - and above all, to President Bush - to speak out. Mr. Bush finally let the word Darfur pass his lips on Wednesday, after 142 days of silence, but only during a photo op. Such silence amounts to acquiescence, for this policy of rape flourishes only because it is ignored.
"The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules."
Okay, Zorkie, this is war! You want a Guest Author post on music?
SO BE IT!
U.S.-based Egyptian analyst Mamoun Fandy wrote in the London-based daily Asharq Al Aswat of 30 May that it was time for Palestinians to grow up and ditch the childish noms-de-guerre, as well as the martyr thing. “I met the president [Abbas] and I heard from him and others that there is a fundamental shift that has taken place in the way the White House deals with the Palestinians under Abbas’ leadership compared to before ... With Mahmoud Abbas the paramilitary adolescence has turned into the maturity of statesmanship," he wrote. “I say to President Bush: Palestine could be the democratic example you are looking for the region and it might come quicker than it will in Iraq. If America had spent on Palestine a quarter of what it has spent in Iraq it would already have its model … The Palestinians should go beyond the world of noms-de-guerre to names of state and this should also involve love of life and not love of death. It should begin now by ditching the title of Abou Mazen for Mr. President Mahmoud Abbas."