Number of the Day

[Trigger warning for sexual violence.]

More than 1,100: The number of women raped every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Every. Day.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health yesterday found that "more than 400,000 women and girls between the ages of 15 to 49 were raped in the war-ravaged country in central Africa during a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007," which "is 26 times more than the 15,000 women that the United Nations has reported were raped there during the same 12 months."

As bad as those of us watching this epidemic of sexual violence rage on, unconstrained, for years, thought this problem was, it is actually 26 times worse.

And these numbers still do not even include the sexual violence done to girls younger than 15, women older than 49, or any boys or men.
"Our results confirm that previous estimates of rape and sexual violence are severe underestimates of the true prevalence of sexual violence occurring in the DRC," Amber Peterman, lead author of the study, said.

"Even these new, much higher figures still represent a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of sexual violence because of chronic underreporting due to stigma, shame, perceived impunity, and exclusion of younger and older age groups as well as men," she said.

..."Although the burden of sexual violence among these groups is uncertain, a review of the records of 4,133 women attending Panzi Hospital in Sud Kivu showed that six per cent were younger than 16 years and 10 per cent were older than 65 years," the study said.

"In addition, Human Rights Watch reported that sexual violence in 2009 doubled in comparison with 2008. If this assessment is accurate, then the current prevalence of sexual violence is likely to be even higher than our estimates suggest."
I quite genuinely cannot begin to put into words the furious rage and the howling sadness I feel.

Please, I beg you, lift a teaspoon on behalf of the survivors and potential victims of sexual violence in DR Congo.

USians, contact the State Department and ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to direct attention and resources to this devastating epidemic. My sample letter is below, which you are free to borrow.
Dear Secretary Clinton:

As you are almost certainly aware, the American Journal of Public Health published a study this week detailing the unfathomable scope of sexual violence being done primarily to women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 1,000 acts of rape, and possibly as many as double that number, are committed every single day.

I am aware of and resoundingly support your dedication to addressing the issue of sexual violence worldwide, and I am hopeful that you will commit as much attention and as many resources as possible to the survivors and potential victims of sexual violence in DR Congo.

Although I recognize the US State Department cannot fix every problem with its finite time and resources, I strongly encourage you to take decisive and effective action to support UN efforts to address what can only rightly be recognized as a national terror campaign against the women and girls of DR Congo.

Melissa McEwan
Also contact your Senators and Representative and make your voice heard: Tell them you are thinking about the women in DR Congo and want them to be thinking about the women in DR Congo, too.

(If you're not in the US, please feel welcome to leave links for contacting MPs or other government officials in other countries in comments.)

Our teaspoons have to be our weapon of war against rape.

[H/T to @Daniel_Moyer. Previously on the DR Congo Rape Epidemic: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven.]

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