- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Your story “U.N. targets rape, sex torture” (World, Thursday) continues your recent series on sexual abuse in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Everyone agrees that sexual abuse is bad, but I have noticed a disturbing trend in your stories.

Each one has the same structure. The stories recount in great detail the prevalence of sexual abuse with statements such as this: “An average of 36 women and girls a day are raped or sexually injured in Congo.” The stories recount in further detail the efforts to reduce this problem. At the end of each story, often in the last paragraph, is a throw-away sentence such as, “At least 5.4 million Congolese have died in the decade-long civil war.” That means an average of about 1,500 men, women and children have died each day. Psychologists can speculate about the reasons for the media’s fascination with stories of sexual assault, but 1,500 deaths per day is a crisis worthy of more serious attention.

When will those vastly larger numbers of deaths become the focus of the story rather than a one-sentence afterthought?



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