October 8, 2007

Rape in Congo...Learn and Take Action!

Each day I receive my usual subscription email from NYTimes Online. But on Sunday, October 7, 2007, there was an article I read which made me think “what can I do, with the help of other concerned citizens, to solve this problem.” The article is titled “Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma in Congo”, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html?th&emc=th.

While this rise in sexual violence against women is unknown, we cannot ignore the effects it has on people not only in Congo but around the world. Dr. Mukwege who works in South Kivu Province states “we don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear. They are done to destroy women.” Whether you do or do not believe these rapes are being used as a tool to destroy Congolese women, I think we can all agree with the latter. Rape does destroy women, often times mentally, physically, and emotionally. It destroys all women, victims and spectators. In no way shape or form is it done to uplift or advance women. At first glance, rape doesn’t seem to have a direct relationship with illiteracy or poverty; however, take a closer look and you may discover that all of these issues are in fact connected.

Wilhelmine Ntakebuka, coordinator of a sexual violence program in Bukavu says the beginning of this epidemic started back in the 1990’s during the wave of Hutu militia that fled Rwanda into Congo following the 1994 genocide. The article states that in almost all reported cases “the culprits are described as young men with guns…poorly paid and often mutinous government soldiers; homegrown militias called the Mai-Mai…members of paramilitary groups originally from Uganda and Rwanda who have destabilized this area over the past 10 years in a quest for gold and all the other riches...” Could these acts be a direct result of Congolese men low economic status or lack of education? Could their desire for better living situations be causing this inhumane behavior? Given economic situations in most African countries, these men probably need to search for gold and “all the other riches”. Their greed no longer is a desire but an issue of survival.

I’m not writing today to offer any reasons as to why this is happening to Congolese women. My reasoning behind this post is to open your eyes to the very injustices and violations of human rights occurring around the globe. They are not problems for the local government but to our global community. I think by starting the dialogue we –the global community, are headed in right direction to creating social change. Is talking enough? No, but it’s a fabulous start!

What do you think?

This post was written by Chanelle Carver, social entrepreneur, nonprofit consultant, and founder of The Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. Please leave your comments or email questions to info@makesocialchangeareality.com.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this article to our attention. Talking and learning from one another is such a vital piece to the "peace puzzle". Although I cannot give a more detailed comment given my limited knowledge on the subject, I definitely think you are taking a step in the right direction. Just by starting this dialogue you are an inspiration and hope others take this opportunity to join in and take action. Thank you again, and God Bless!

Marina said...

I genuinely believe that even if we are not able to bring about the change the world needs right away, simply by monitoring what happens around us, studying, learning and disseminating our ideas we can contribute in a larger project: to educate ourselves and become more aware not only of what really goes on in the world, but why it happens and how it can be tackled. Ignorance and indifference is the worst evemy of the human rights regime. And as always, optimism is the best policy! Great job, i'll definetely hang out here!

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