Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement has been working tirelessly for years to bring the world’s attention to the violence against women and girls in the DRC.
This week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought a check for $17 million to the DRC to help fight sexual violence. She also offered the help of the US military’s Africa command and US legal experts to draw up new laws.
As part of her seven-nation Africa tour, Secretary Clinton asked the president of Angola for assistance in ending the Congolese conflict. She suggested he should send military advisors to improve the Congo’s own forces.
V-Day activist Christine Schuler-DeSchryver expressed her frustration in a New York Times article that the stream of high-ranking visitors to the DRC merely results in “a pile of business cards.” She asked Secretary Clinton to “be our spokesperson, our voice.” Mrs. Clinton acknowledged she doesn’t have a magic wand:
This problem is too big for one country to solve alone. Women are being turned into weapons of war. [It is] evil in its basest form. It is almost impossible to describe the level of suffering and despair.
18,000 United Nations peace-keepers and intervention by an army of diplomats has failed to stop the violence. The United Nations calls the Congo the rape capital of the world. Men and boys are now being raped along with women and girls.
Bravo to The New York Times and MSN News for reporting on a story which was ignored by much of the mainstream media. Secretary Clinton’s tiff because a translator made a mistake was widely reported, but the first visit of a secretary of state to the DRC to try to prevent the rape of 200,000 women since 1996 didn’t hit the airwaves. HillarysMyGirl16 passionately expressed the frustration I felt when I read last night’s V-Day news letter:
This is a very serious issue, but the media can’t have that. [They] don’t want things to change for women. [If] they did, they would have covered it instead of Secretary Clinton’s [righteous] indignation about what her husband thought and since when is Secretary Clinton “Mrs. Clinton.” She is Madame Secretary and NOT Mrs. Clinton.
Secretary Clinton became the voice of the rape survivors with the reporters covering her trip. They said she was “overwhelmed” by what she heard and saw. She told them about a woman who was eight months pregnant when she was gang raped. Her baby was ripped from her womb. Because there was no hospital, the villagers did the best they could. They stuffed grass in her wounds to try to stop the bleeding. She lost the baby and barely survived. Women are raped when they go look for food. An 8-year-0ld boy was raped when he strayed from camp. One rape survivor expressed the abandonment they all feel:
Children are killed, women are raped and the world closes its eyes.
In yesterday’s V-Day newsletter, Ms. Schuler-DeSchryver reported on her meeting with Secretary Clinton:
She then listened atentively to each one of us and many times I saw tears in her eyes, I didn’t really feel I had the Secretary of State next to me but we all had the feeling we were just between women, she was so humble, so human, so sensitive, she paid so much attention that I sometimes felt she was swallowing our words, for the first time [in a] decade hope was permitted among all the atrocities.
I’m with HillarysMyGirl16:
Thank you Secretary Clinton for giving all women a voice.
And, thank you, Eve Ensler, for never giving up. I have dedicated this web site to you and your efforts to end the violence against women and girls. This story seems the perfect way to celebrate my sixth month anniversary of Navigating Uncharted Waters. I never dreamed on V-Day, 2009 that today I would have over 5,200 visitors. I hope that some of those reading this story who can afford to do so will write you a check.
I promise you, Eve, that I’ll keep writing until the violence stops.