"We believe there should be no impunity for the sexual and gender based violence, and there must be arrests and punishment because that runs counter to peace."—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Congo today, where she "unveiled a $17 million plan on Tuesday to fight the widespread sexual violence in eastern Congo, a problem she said was 'evil in its basest form'."
The idea that impunity for sexual violence is an impediment to peace is one that touches me so deeply and intimately, I don't know if I can sufficiently convey how profoundly meaningful it is to hear my Secretary of State say it. Endemic and epidemic sexual violence without justice is, in its broadest sense, an obstacle to national peace—and then there is this: Surviving sexual assault without justice is not a peaceful life. It decimates all the elements of a peaceful life—one's sense of security, one's peace of mind, one's contentment within one's own skin. I have never again felt the kind of peace I knew before sexual violence without justice.
Thank you, Secretary Clinton, for acknowledging the reality of unpunished sexual violence on a national level, and a personal level, for Congolese women. Thank you.