Someone like you

A woman born in South Africa is more likely to be raped then to learn how to read. A survey found that 60% of school children think that it is not violence to force someone you know to have sex. Damage from the rape of babies can be so severe that surgery is needed to rebuild even the respiratory system.

During the recent war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape was used as a weapon against hundreds of thousands of people, especially women and children. Many women now live with chunks of flesh torn out by bayonets or sticks, urine and blood continuously streaming from between their legs. Most are too poor and ashamed to seek help, and too afraid of backlash to report the rapes.

The estimated number of people trafficked into slavery of various forms is more than the population of New Zealand, several times over. In many places all over the world, children are sold into sexual slavery by their parents or another relative to pay off debts. It’s not that these children are unloved, it’s that their families often have little other choice.

I am not the norm. My life is not representative of any other life out there. I am unbelievably, unfairly privileged. Yes, I have had moments of intense darkness and pain in my life, but I do not have a vaginal fistula due to gang rape or lack of medical care after childbirth. I don’t have enough money to buy everything I want, but my body is not paralysed by hunger pains. More people are in need then are not. More people are suffering then are not. How did I ever get to be one of those fortunate people born in 1989 in New Zealand? Why is this my reality? Why do I get a house, a bed, food? Why was I allowed to live without terror? When the odds were so slim, why me?

There are generally two statements that will be made when discussing the holocaust. The first is “How could the world have let that happen?” and the second is “That would never happen these days, because information is far more easily gained now. People would know about it and stop it.” We’re lying to ourselves. We let it happen. We sit around and say “Oh, that’s so sad” and don’t do anything about it. It does all seem so huge. What could we possibly do to stop it all? We could never eradicate human trafficking. We could never stop anyone from ever being raped. There is so much we could never accomplish in our lifetimes, but we must try. How could we not even try?

I must admit, I do not want to go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the place that haunts me most, but I do not want to go there. If there is a way that I can help, while sitting safely in my lounge, I would gladly do it. But God, please, do not send me there. I am too terrified of being raped by 10 soldiers. I am too scared that one will rape me with a rifle, and then shoot me from the inside. I do not want to be one of them. I can barely grasp just how fortunate I am, but I do know that never would I ever want to know the suffering they have experienced. Just knowing that so many of the crown of creation have suffered in this way tears me up. I feel physical pain in my sympathy for them. But I am not as brave as they are. I could never live through that.

The thing that scares me most is the thought that my good fortune will not last. Any second, any day, I could become one of those statistics. A war could break out here, or a natural disaster could occur. My freedom could be lost in seconds, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I guess that’s where it really hits me. These are women just like me. The 9 year old Cambodian girl who was sold into prostitution today, was just like me at 9 yesterday. Apart from the fact that I am unbelievably privileged, and they are not, young women in countries terrorised by sexual violence are just like me. She could be me. I could be her.

Oh, thank You, Lord, for Your unexplainable mercy. Don’t let me forget just how lucky I am. Don’t let me go through my life without doing something with what You have given me. I know that You have made me so incredibly blessed for a reason, and I know that I only have too much to give too much. Don’t let me forget, Lord.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”
Dr Seuss


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