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Women's Rights: Rape as a Weapon of War

May 14, 2010

Dem. Rep. Congo: Meeting for Rape Victims.
Dem. Rep. Congo: Meeting for Rape Victims. Rape victims who have been successfully reintegrated into their communities assemble in a "peace hut" near Walungu, South Kivu in DRC. USAID-supported health programs have assisted rape victims with counseling, training, employment, and safe living environments. (Photo taken 2001 during the visit of US Rep. Frank Wolf.)

Posted by Kimmy Sophia Brown

Part of our mission at the Significato Journal is to highlight and support causes around the world that we feel are important. Rape is an unpleasant topic but it is happening in certain parts of the world at an alarming rate. Rape is a weapon of war and a weapon of violence. In fact, rape is no longer a by-product of war, it is an intentional action carried out to terrorize and demoralize the enemy. Women, children and even men in some cases, are targets. Even if the victims receive medical and/or psychological treatment, the likelihood that they are attacked again remains high unless the perpetrators are stopped and brought to justice, or their mindset changes, which is less probable. For regions to defeat this problem, tremendous resources are needed.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and other regions, (such as during the Bosnian war in the 1990s), women and children have been subjected to repeated attacks. It is not only psychologically scarring but causes horrific physical damage, spreads disease and in some cases causes unwanted pregnancies.

Getting treatment to the victims is one serious issue, because victims feel shame and do not want to tell anyone what happened to them. In some cultures, an added outrage is that so-called “defiled” women, are sometimes shunned by their husbands.

Below are several charities that are involved with raising public awareness about rape and giving treatment to rape victims.

Unicef:

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/drcongo_43541.html

The link above is an article highlighting Unicef’s partnership with playwright, Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues. She launched the V-Day campaign, (V for Victory), (http://www.vday.org/home), to raise funds (over fifty million dollars to date) for shelters, medical treatment and public education about rape. Here’s an excerpt from the article, ‘Stop Rape Now’ by Rachel Bonham Carter, about a Unicef  2007 panel discussion:

“What is it about women getting raped that isn’t grabbing people’s imagination, isn’t seizing people’s conscience or isn’t getting people to stand up?” asked writer and activist Eve Ensler, creator of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

“Part of it, I think, is that rape is so institutional at this point,” she added. “It’s so ordinary and people just expect it to happen.”

Ms. Ensler read an essay she had written in 1994 in response to news of the atrocities committed at ‘sex camps’ in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war. She appealed to “the powers that be” to move away from bureaucratic terms and focus on the individual stories of the victims.

Here are other resources to find out more about how you can help:

‘Stop Rape Now’: UN agencies against sexual violence as a tactic of war:

http://www.stoprapenow.org/

World Health Organization, Sexual Violence Research Initiative:

http://www.svri.org/

Doctors Without Borders:

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=1836

The link above is an article about what they are doing to help rape victims in the Congo.

Image(s) from Wikimedia Commons

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