I’ve always believed that a good way to destroy a nation is to begin with its youth. The youth of a nation can be exploited and brainwashed in many different ways. Two of the most common exploitation tactics used in many parts of the world, especially in Africa are war and rape.
In most countries, more specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is surprising to witness the consistent prevalence of such acts against children.
Due to its highly valuable minerals, fertile land, exquisite animal species and vast natural resources, the country is plagued by riots, wars, and mass rape that is estimated to have claimed the lives of millions. The young Congolese boys and girls are the ones who are mainly ‘active’ and tremendously affected by these atrocities.
Driven by power, greed, and corruption, government forces and multiple militias who dominate many corners of the country deliberately oppress these young civilians by not only intimidating them, but also by exploiting them as child soldiers and victims of rape.
These young children end up suffering tremendously from these acts. They become desensitized, turning into machines, or what I call, zombies.
When someone is a zombie, they are alienated from themselves and from others. They turn into pieces of equipment where they have no feelings as a result of fighting in wars, passively slaughtering other innocent people and unreceptively witnessing how people are blown up and torn into pieces.
In the case of rape, just like Zombies, young Congolese girls’ minds and bodies operate and behave like sex machines. A young Congolese girl, when she begins to realize that her body is used as an object and that neither her body nor her life belongs to her, she learns to stop feeling and becomes apathetic. In turn, she begins to participate in the same form of violence against other females.
One may presume that most of these young boys and girls feel that they are doing something wrong. Nonetheless, because now war and sexual violence have become their reality, and somewhat a desperate form of survival, their reaction is to submissively participate in more violent acts against themselves and others.
Commodities are made to be used and exploited. Human beings are to be loved and cared for. However, when humans are rather used as commodities, conflicts arise.
Revolutionary and German scholar, Karl Marx supported this fact, when he stated that, “the increase in value of the world of things arises in direct proportion the decrease of value of human beings.” He goes on reinforcing this idea by predicting that consequently, “human beings cease to recognize in each other their common human nature [and] see others as instruments for furthering their egoistic interests.”
The political unrest within the Democratic Republic of the Congo has affected each and every one within and outside of the country, especially on the victims who are also prohibited from speaking against it. Worse is the fact that the Congolese youth are not even allowed to give their version, voice their views and ideas about these horrendous warfare tactics called forced child labor, child soldiers and mass rape.
However if the Congolese people and friends of the Congo living within and outside of the country come together with similar goals in advocating an authentic dialogue and devoted to identify the causes of the wars and sexual slavery, and aim to implement the kinds of actions or policies necessary to free these children, their parents, and the Congolese people as a whole from these insidious chains of atrocities, perhaps the cycle of sexual violence, war tactics and poverty will be conked out.
This idea is best reflected and supported by R. Lister, in his article titled “Investing in the citizen-worker of the Future.” In this article, Lister emphasizes that “We must give all our children the opportunity to achieve their hopes and fulfill their potential…” “Tackling child poverty is the best anti-drugs, anti crimes, anti-depressants policy of [any] country.” In other words, if the Congolese youth are exposed to not only solid love and encouragement but also exposed to educational opportunities, and their parents also exposed to economic opportunities rather than corruption and exploitation, with their basic human rights fully taken into consideration, they too can find the strength to eradicate such warfare tactics and realize their full potential.