August 19, 2013 update: Please read this interview with journalist Jean Friedman-Rudovsky in connection with the article below. It’s a good and frank look at how Jean worked at the story; it also offers some suggestions and signs of hope.
The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia | VICE United States www.vice.com For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women. There was no other explanation. No way of explaining how a woman could wake up with blood and semen stains sm…
Many of you may have already seen this article shared at Facebook, but for those of you who aren’t there, I’m linking to it here as well, since it’s a matter I’ve included in this blog before. Journalist Jean Friedman-Rudovsky covered the trial of Mennonite men in Bolivia who were accused of rape for TIME magazine; this is her investigation of life in Manitoba colony (Bolivia) since then. It’s a long, but well-written article, important in the way journalism is important, putting matters on the record and hopefully motivating to action, understanding, healing, change. Whether one can muster much hope of that in the face of the content (disturbing, be warned), I’m not sure. I was shaking by the end of it, and maybe that’s important too.
I’ve had a brief — and good — exchange at FB subsequent to the link there, with a person who works with conservative Mennonites. She questions whether we recognize the complexity of the issues, whether negative views are reinforced, whether, in fact, such a piece reinforces “feelings of shame and further helplessness among the innocent.” Valid questions. I confess my own strong bias towards “telling,” towards the value of journalism in putting the untold into “the record,” towards the ideals of that profession of which I once considered myself a small part (until I turned to fiction, that is ), and I find Jean Friedman-Rudovsky’s work here solid and compelling. But there is certainly room for a lively debate around these questions. In our bit of a back and forth, the other person’s last sentence was ”I wonder how our feelings of helplessness and anger toward violence can be channelled towards healing.” This is what I wonder too. Emotional responses are inevitable, but what next?