Blog in Solidarity: Congo Rape Epidemic

Inspired in large part by Lisa Jackson's film, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, which is airing this month on HBO, SheCodes at Black Women Vote (via Elle, Marcella, and Anxious Black Woman) exhorted other bloggers to participate in a blogswarm "to raise awareness by blogging about this issue on April 13th."

The prevalence of rape in the Congo has been described as the worst in the world:
The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women in eastern Congo are "almost unimaginable," the top U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday after visiting the country's most fragile region, where militia groups have preyed on the civilian population for years.

John Holmes, who coordinates U.N. emergency relief operations, said 4,500 cases of sexual violence have been reported in just one eastern province since January, though the actual number is surely much higher. Rape has become "almost a cultural phenomenon," he said.

"Violence and rape at the hands of these armed groups has become all too common," said Holmes, who spent four days in eastern Congo. "The intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world."
Hundreds of thousands of women have reportedly been raped in the Congo, with sexual violence "so widespread that the medical aid charity, Médecins sans Frontières, [said in November] that 75% of all the rape cases it deals with worldwide are in eastern Congo."
One woman who sought treatment at the hospital tells how she hasn't dared sleep in her own home for months.

"Every woman in the village leaves at night to sleep in the bush because of the raping. They still loot but if they can't find us they can't rape us," she said.

..."People live in fear so they live in the bush. They expose themselves to diseases: malaria, gastro-enteritis. It's cold at night. All of this claims lives," [Augustin Augier, the MSF administrator at Rutshuru hospital] said.
I quite honestly don't know what I can say that I haven't already said a thousand times about the brutal, life-altering horror of rape or the catastrophic devastation to nations when rape is used as a weapon of war, forever changing entire populations of women and girls. I have no words; I beg you to listen to "this very moving and upsetting interview with Zawadi Mongane, a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who suffered appalling violence by the Interahamwe who killed her family, gang raped her, and forced her to kill her own baby" (and read the follow-up).

I know it's horrible. I know it's the last fucking thing in the world you want to hear. And I beg you to listen, anyway, and expose yourself to that pain, and then go to CARE or Amnesty International and find a way, some way, any way, to try to make a difference. It might be small; it might just be putting your name on a petition. But if thousands of people took time today to put their names on petitions, if thousands of people donated just a dollar, or five, and if each of those thousands of people in turn begged people they know and love to do the same, and so on, it will matter.

Grab your teaspoon.

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