Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A prayer for raped mothers and babies

Suad Abdalaziz, 28, who was raped and became pregnant
during a attack by the janjaweed in the village of Tawila,
holds her 3-day-old baby girl.

David P. Gilkey, Detroit Free Press

Sudan girls victimized
“If she doesn't marry she may become a prostitute…”

One of the most devastating aspects of the Darfur genocide is the fact that janjaweed gangsters and their Arab backers are using rape as a weapon of ethnic cleansing. The defenseless Sudan men are killed and their young women are raped, left to bear children – children forever branded, raised by stigmatized mothers.

It is a shame/honor culture in which rape devalues the girls’ worth. Not only must they now carry a forced child, but do so in a society that then devalues both child and mother. It is heartbreaking, on all levels.

Sudarsan Raghavan, a Detroit Free Press correspondent, gives an on-site account…from Abu Shouk, Sudan.

ABU SHOUK, Sudan - There were no smiles, no blessings at the birth of the light-skinned girl with the ebony eyes and curly black hair. Not a glimpse of joy. For a family still bleeding from war, the baby was like salt on their wounds.

"My father didn't speak for the entire day," recalled her mother, Suad Abdalaziz, 28, her voice cracking and her face streaming with tears. "He was not angry at me. He was angry at the janjaweed and the government for giving me this baby."

In the troubled province of Darfur, pro-government Arab militias called the janjaweed have raped countless black African women in a campaign that the Bush administration has called genocide.

Now, their babies are emerging across this tableau of human suffering. They are outcasts in a war-scarred society where rape is a source of shame and a father's identity defines the child.

Relatives shun them, seeing in their tiny faces the atrocities committed by their enemies. Mothers struggle to accept them, torn between loyalty to their tribe and their instincts to love and care. Many are resigned to a life of isolation, where marriage is unlikely and where their children will forever carry a stigma.

"These are the babies of the janjaweed," said Hassan Abdallah Bakhur, a tribal elder from the town of Tawilla, 40 miles south of here. “I don't know how we can solve this problem. They and their mothers face a bad future.”

Read Sudarsan's article here.

It is heartbreaking. Adding to the genocide, with hundreds of thousands dead, is this story of mothers and children, still living, yes...but feeling dead inside. It is a story of mass rape, ethnic cleansing, and its grossly destructive aftermath for babies and mothers. As people of faith, can we hold them in our prayers and in our hearts?

A prayer for these mothers and children

A prayer for janjaweed rape babies

O God, we confess that You are Sovereign over the affairs of humankind.
Even when we cannot see your hand, O Lord, we trust your heart, and confess You as Good.
Countless times, Almighty God, You witness to us that You are well able to bring good from evil.
Now, O God, dear Abba of the nations, please hear our prayers for these newborn babies, babies born not of the will of the mother, not of the will of the family, but by cruel acts forced upon defenseless women. O God! Can any good come of such evil?
And now, Lord, you see these dear children, born of no will of their own, into families that see them as lesser beings, reminders of pain. O God! Can any good come of such evil?
We confess You, our Lord, above all these human affairs, God who transcends the most evil acts and our deepest, layered pain.
Hear our hearts, O God, for these babies, and for their mothers.
Raise up among these babies O God, that Moses, born in hated times, who would set his people free!
Raise up among these babies O God, that Esther, who loved her calling more than life!
Raise up among these babies an all consuming love, Love that will perish the deeds of darkness, and find...in that darkest night, a Light to lead the way, into freedom and truth!
O Abba! Good God, our Father in Heaven, hear our prayers! Receive these babies as Your dear children. Receive these single mothers as your dear daughters, Abba! Be to them the husband they may not have, the respect, counsel, wisdom and defense for which they long!
O, dear Father, provide for babies and mothers as only You can! 'Father to the fatherless, Husband to the widow,' that is who You claim to be: now provide, dear Abba --
Provide life and love for them through your Holy Spirit; in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

One article from the Common Dreams Center says that the world has turned away, but the Darfur misery goes on. People of faith, is it said of us that we have turned away also?

Let us to our prayers and other actions of love...



Note: I wrote this prayer 11-26-04 and published it on the Parkview blog. I repost it here, by request.

Also see:

Emily Wax, “‘We Want to Make a Light Baby’: Arab Militiamen in Sudan Said to Use Rape as Weapon of Ethnic Cleansing,” Washington Post.

Refugees International, “Stop the Genocide in Sudan.”

Common Dreams Center, “The World Has Turned Away, but Darfur Misery Goes On.”

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