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Today's Washington Post reviews the Congolese sex scandal that demonstrates the utter collapse of UN credibility and command/management functions at Turtle Bay. Pre-teens have been trandsformed into cheap hookers by blue-helmeted rapists, who then use them for sex with dollar-per-encounter transactions -- if the girl is lucky:
She's known in the community as a "one-dollar U.N. girl." At night, she sleeps on the cracked pavement outside a storefront. In the mornings, she sashays through the dusty streets, clutching a frayed parasol against the blinding sun.
Yvette and her friends are also called kidogo usharatis, Swahili for small prostitutes. They loiter outside the camps of U.N. peacekeepers, hoping to sell their bodies for a mug of milk, a cold soda or -- best of all -- a single dollar.
"I'm sad about it. But I needed the dollars. I can't go farm because of the militias. Who will feed me?" asked Yvette. At 14, she has a round face with wide eyes beneath a cap of neatly shorn hair, and her hands rest on her hips in an older girl's pose.
When Yvette was 10, a militiaman raped her, leaving her without clothes, she recalled. She cried a lot, wrapped her body in rags and then got up. She sought counseling at a women's organization, where she was told that she had done nothing wrong but that the theft of her virginity made her worthless as a bride. She should understand, the counselors said, that now no man would marry her.
Sometimes when newspapers highlight a single person like Yvette, they run the risk of blowing an issue out of proportion. That doesn't apply in this case, as the UN itself currently investigates over 150 such incidents in the Congo alone, and now faces similar substantiated accusations in several more of their peacekeeping operations, primarily but not exclusively in Africa. The UN has only fired one person in their Congo mission for the sexual exploitation of little girls despite the fact that these issues came to light almost a year ago, with a May 2004 report in the British newspaper The Independent (available for purchase only now).
The pandemic of rape and pimping that UN peacekeeping missions bring with them should convince everyone, especially the Muslim societies that both provided most of the peacekeepers and most of the victims, that the UN should stop pretending to be competent at managing military units. Armies need discipline in order to prevent going wild, and the blue helmets appear to provide license for disciplinary breakdowns as a rule rather than an exception. And the troops aren't entirely to blame; their civilian leadership certainly has been implicated in the exploitation of little girls as well.
The UN peacekeeping missions wind up destroying lives and disrupting societies while the pedophiles within their ranks indulge themselves. In the meantime, their primary mission of keeping peace usually only lasts until the first bullet rings out, at which time these troops abandon the people they've exploited to the warring factions that the blue-helmeted presence was supposed to separate. In the past ten years of UN peacekeeping, no single engagement has shown any political progress; the best result the UN can achieve is an interminable stalemate.
Why do we let the UN continue to perform these functions?Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on March 21, 2005 3:26 PM
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