On Saturday I went into four different craft stores, and Halloween decorations were everywhere. “Boo!” said a banner. “SCARY SAVINGS!” screamed a poster. “Horrors!” yelled the candy packaging. Witches, vampires and Fairy princess costumes hung waiting for people to put them on.
Horrors indeed. Anyone wanting some real life horrors, not some made up Hollywood horrors, should look no further than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 1996, hundreds of thousands of women have been raped. In the first few months of 2008 alone, 3,500 women had been raped, and these were only the reported cases.
Mother Jones published a photoessay of Rwandan women who had children of rape, and how they treat those children. It was an incredibly sad story.
Sometimes the news makes me so sad that I just don’t want to turn it on anymore.
But when I saw this video today, I had to share it with you.
Because it gives me hope.
This is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but we should pay attention to domestic AND sexual violence this month and every month out of the year.
The rape of the Congolese women is an important cause to me.
When I saw this video, I was so glad to see women demonstrating and claiming the space, able to say they were raped without fear of being ostracized or worse. The World March of Women organized the march, hopefully a nonprofit will come out of this march that will help women protect themselves and re-educate men.
“U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told CNN: “Even in the eastern part of DRC where rape has been a perennial and massive problem for the past 15 years, this incident stands out because of the extraordinarily cold-blooded and systematic way in which it appears to have been planned and executed.”
Though cast as the victims of senseless sexual violence, the Congolese walked proudly through the streets as strong survivors, testifying to their strength and personal perseverance. Moreover, the fact that these women openly demonstrated in a country where “a dead rat is worth more than the body of a woman” draws a sharp contrast to the shame culture we’ve built in American society toward rape. Clearly, these Congolese women are far more than sad statistics and victims – they’re potent examples of how we should likewise march forward against sexual violence and support the survivors in our own communities.”
From The Daily Femme and CNN.
Sometimes the violence in the Congo and Rwanda can seem like too much to bear. But if you would like to march in the next “World March of Women” Action the details of the 2010 actions are here.