The Greatest Rape in the Congo Hits Sarajevo

For those unfamiliar with her work, Lisa F. Jackson’s “The Greatest Rape in the Congo. Silence. Their stories need to be heard.” is going to be playing next week in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Some people might be looking at the title for the film below and wondering if this is a film praising rape. It’s not of course, but it just reads the way I wrote it when you look at it. I’m not the first person to point this out though, thanks, WR.
This is a documentary that in theory delves in to the lives of women who have been raped by soldiers in the long slew of wars that have plagued the eastern region of DR Congo. The only problem with the film is that Jackson ultimately casts herself as a protagonist in the film, in front of the camera instead of allowing the subjects of the film to tell their own story.
Obviously, this is ridiculous. She’s a Westerner and an American from New York who stayed in the best hotels of area. Despite this, her film constantly gets screen time because it is one of the few films about the region, although not the only one. Lumo is another which I highly recommend to view instead of sitting through not only Jackson’s film, but listening to her talk about how little the UN is doing despite the fact her film was made possible through UN transportation, UN security, UN friends that were high up, and UN National staff who worked as her translators and guides. Hypocritical doesn’t even start to describe it.
The real problem that I have with her and her film is that she is doing nothing but sensationalizing an area that needs to be humanized. Jackson gets endless, endless mileage out of showing this film and making a name for herself, but what do the Congolese women get out of it? Nothing. I’ve been to Panzi Hospital, which she features in her film. They’re sick of all the coverage and all these media vultures that come in, do a reportage and then leave without causing any kind of change. They want some kind of action and they rightly want it now.
So, if you are a Westerner, one may ask, how can you help and make some positive energy in all of this? Stop watching sensationalist films, that’s how. Nodding along to what they say doesn’t help anyone. Search out the better made, more intelligent films that will inevitably be by non-Americans (Darwin’s Nightmare is quite good) and as always, take a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa to learn that you don’t need to be scared of the continent. They are people there, not freakin’ savages despite how many Heart of Darkness references people use. No, you don’t need to go to conflict areas to see the “real” Africa, but at the same time, Cape Town doesn’t count.
The Greatest Rape in the Congo Hits Sarajevo