White woman’s burden: Angelina Jolie, the G8 and rape in the DRC


by Ann Garrison

Pacifica, WBAI, AfrobeatRadio broadcast April 13, 2013

WBAI AfrobeatRadio Host Wuyi Jacobs: On Thursday, in a performance that raised eyebrows and caused teeth gnashing among Congolese peace and justice activists, movie actress Angelina Jolie thanked leaders of the G8 summit for their effort to end sexual violence in war. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.

AfrobeatRadio/Ann Garrison: At the end of March, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and movie actress Angelina Jolie flew to Rwanda, where Hague was photographed shaking hands with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Rwandan Foreign Secretary Louise Mushikiwabo then told the press that good relations between the U.K. and Rwanda had been restored. Last year the government of the U.K. had slashed aid to Kagame’s administration because of U.N. reports that it was funding, arming and commanding the M23 militia waging war in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, other G8 leaders, Angelina Jolie 041113 byIn a September 2012 report, Human Rights Watch wrote that Rwanda was recruiting troops to cross the border to join M23 and that M23 was responsible for summary executions, forced recruitment and the rape of at least 46 women and girls, the youngest of whom was 8 years old. Human Rights Watch also wrote that M23 fighters had shot dead a 25-year-old pregnant woman who resisted rape, wounded two other women who eventually died of their wounds while raping them, and poured fuel between the legs of one of their victims and lit the fuel on fire.

Nevertheless, after British Foreign Secretary Hague had reportedly re-established good relations with the Kagame administration, he and Jolie crossed the border to visit rape victims in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and generate headlines about their campaign to end the use of rape as a weapon of war.

On Thursday this week, Jolie thanked the G8 summit of the world’s eight wealthiest nations for their commitment and contribution of $35 million to the cause and said that the use of rape as a weapon could be ended.

Angelina Jolie: Hundreds and thousands of women and children have been sexually assaulted, tortured or forced into sexual slavery in the wars of our generation. Time and again the world has failed to prevent this abuse or to hold attackers accountable. Rape has been treated as something that simply happens in war. Perpetrators have learned that they can get away with it and victims have been denied justice. But wartime rape is not inevitable. This violence can be prevented and it must be confronted.

WBAI/AfrobeatRadio: Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention has, since 1949, explicitly prohibited wartime rape and enforced prostitution, but Jolie also thanked the G8 for promising to take this seriously.

Angelina Jolie: So I welcome the pledge by the G8 to regard rape and sexual violence in armed conflict as grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

BK KumbiWBAI/AfrobeatRadio: BK Kumbi, a Congolese woman, historian and activist in Geneva, told KPFA that she does not appreciate Jolie’s activism.

BK Kumbi: Well, I think that Angelina Jolie should learn a little bit more about Congo and the real issues that are going on in this part of the world. There is a tragedy and what she’s doing, actually, is just assuming a side of the story that is said by the Western powers, and we don’t see anything good coming out of that. So I think that her speech ends up inflaming emotions against Congolese men and somehow just makes the world forget about the role played by Rwanda in this tragedy.

WBAI/AfrobeatRadio: That was BK Kumbi, who will be speaking to WBAI AfrobeatRadio in a longer conversation soon about how the big powers divert attention from the root causes of war in Congo by focusing on the singular issue of rape and violence against women.

For Pacifica, WBAI and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at anngarrison.com.



  1. Someone has to keep the Hutu Power group called the FDLR out of Goma. They’re still trying to continue the genocide project in Rwanda. M23 and the Rwandan gov’t need to keep the FDLR (Hutu Power) away from the border to protect Rwandans from another 1994.

    I’m aware you inform yourself with a different (dubious) view on the 1994 genocide, but if you read up on the history of the FDLR and who is in its command structure, I think you’ll agree this menace needs to be delt with.

    Thanks for time.

    • Seamus. . . whomever you may actually be: This is no more than the usual recitation about 1994 and the FDLR, which Kagame supporters regurgitate when ever anyone challenges their simple good guys vs. bad guys account of 1994 and its aftermath.

  2. I thought the mission, AT THE MOMENT, is to stop rape and violence against women at times of war. This is not about Congo politics. The only reason that they ended up on that side of the border, according to the articles read, was to show the displaced raped and violated women. Now, if the historian wants to do something about the rests of the country’s problems, that is wonderful. But, don’t try to take the focus away from the raped and violated women of war. This has to stop and I am so glad that the G8 agreed by contributing to the cause.

    • The G8 have been making noise about stopping the rape for many many years, anida. This is really nothing new. They and the Security Council make noise every time they want to distract from the latest report on U.S. military partners Rwanda and Uganda’s ongoing war, occupation and plunder of the eastern D.R.C., and the profits being made.

      Barack Obama asked Condoleezza Rice to “do something” about the rape back in 2005 or 2006. Hillary Clinton said she was going to Goma to do something about it in 2009. Crusading to stop the rape has become the standard distraction from the truth: that the G8 and the Security Council have no interest in stopping the war, which is the only real way to stop the use of rape as a weapon of war.

  3. I find it interesting, Ann, that you claim the issue of rape is used as a distraction. For whom is this distraction meant? How many U.S. and other world citizens are even aware of what’s going on in the D.R.C.? For such a conspiracy of distraction to even be worthwhile, I’d assume more people would have to have knowledge of the situation, let alone a thorough understanding. Also, who are you as a white woman who is writing/concerned with this issue to criticize another white woman’s concern? As a black American, I find your type to be incredibly offensive—the type who attacks other white folks intentions in an attempt to prove their own legitimacy.

    • Justin, I don’t know if you noticed but Ann was simply voicing what the Congolese activists are saying. As a Rwandan, I totally agree with the Congolese woman’s and Ann’s point view that the issue of rape in the war in Congo would never have happened if not for Kagame’s government continuing invasion of Congo that has been going on for 17 years now. Let us address the root causes, not the symptoms please.

      • Her opinion is made very clear in her response to the reader comment above mine. Furthermore, the title of this article reeks of snideness.

        • And like I said, it is an opinion that she shares with the Congolese woman and many of us Africans. You are entitled to your opinion about the title of the article. But at the end of the day, many of us from Congo and Rwanda have followed Ann’s writing over the years and I can assure you she stands on the side of peace. If you support peace in the region of Africa that this article is about, I really think there are many other people you should be attacking instead of attacking Ann.

      • No. We must address BOTH. Dealing only with the root causes is not enough. BOTH must be addressed together, if human lives are involved.

  4. Sister BK Kumbi: Angelina lends her weight (hugely successful talent in the entertainment industry) to support causes that she cares about. Rather than do the girlie cat fight or black/white dated thing …. Why not reach out personally to a comrade helping sisters and brothers who are victims of largely male perpetrated violence. Supporting your male silent majority is Betty Crocker stale. At this point you should inform Angelina's talking points rather than impede progress.

    • Reducing the war in DRC to a rape and sexually related crime is in itself an insult to the congolese people ( male and female)who for decades now have been subjected to slavery in its purest form by the west with the help of their african puppet . So , please Jolie , keep to the movies because the reality in the RDC is very far from the fiction story that you are trying to tell , it is ugly , bloddy and extremely deadly.

  5. AUSTRALIAN Open security staff have been briefed to prepare for a possible visit by Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the Melbourne grand slam.
    With the movie stars in Australia and on the official invite list for the event, security experts have been instructed to be on high alert should the mega-famous couple arrive at Melbourne Park.
    Tournament organisers have confirmed the couple have been invited to Melbourne for the event's finals but say they do not know if they are coming.
    Whispers spread at the Open on Friday night that an event sponsor expected Pitt and Jolie courtside this weekend.

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