Narrating Genocide

“When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak” by Ngwarsungu Chiwengo highlights the importance of language when it comes to representing human rights which is why certain events such as the Rwandan genocide receive more attention than violence and rape in Congo. The author cites 2 magazines: Shattered Lives and Seeking Justice. The former objectifies pain with a focus on women’s misery, poverty, trauma, and suffering. The latter, on the other hand, focuses on differences in laws in the Congo versus elsewhere, commodifying women as an object in the market economy. I personally disagreed with the example given by the author and felt that whereas it is important to make women the central focus, it also important to address politics involving rape laws by doing so, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the women were being “commodified.” However, if there is a lack of literature elaborating on women’s suffering in the Congo (which seems to be the case) then this would be a problem.

“Narrative” is something we usually don’t think or care about but the author makes a great point by pointing out the agencies supposedly giving voice to the people, such as documentaries, narratives, reports and films, can actually end up silencing the victims of structural violence. This is especially apparent in the case of rape and women, as mentioned above. Whereas political and economical analysis is also important, hopefully future narratives on genocides will make the victims the central focus of the writing.


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