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Mass Rape in D.R. Congo: Where is the end to suffering?Jennifer Fierberg, MSW Salem-News.com
Not one more woman should have to suffer a fate like this in any country.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The ongoing reports of brutal mass rapes in the D.R. Congo continue to surface on a daily basis. Sadly, the reaction is easy for many to simply turn the page to another story; it is not in their neighborhood, backyard or happening to their body.
Just this week this reporter received the tragic news of one specific case of a woman who was abducted from her home in the Congo in April of this year, taken into the bush and gang-raped daily by a minimum of ten men at a time. When she was found in June and was not able to walk and was in much need of major medical care for the life threatening sexual trauma she had suffered. She was taken to the Centre Kitumaini a place of refuge for women and children where they receive basic medical attention, are taught marketable skills and grow their own food.
That being said, I do not want to gloss over the atrocities this woman suffered….imagine being taken from your home in the night by men you don’t know at gun point and taken to an undisclosed location only to be brutally gang-raped for 90 days straight? Most women would never be able to survive such a situation. This amazingly strong woman not only survived these horrific violations day after day she was able to get help at the Panzi Hospital at no cost to her.
Just days after this report landed in my inbox Amnesty International published a press release reporting that on June 11, 2011, 100 women were gang raped in one night. “New reports have emerged that fighters of a former armed group integrated into the Congolese army, deserted from an army training camp and raped possibly up to 100 women, in an attack in the village of Nyakiele near the town of Fizi in the east of the country, on the night of 11 June,” Amnesty International. They further stated, “New mass rapes by members of the Congolese army in the Democratic Republic of Congo are the result of the government’s failure to bring human rights abusers to justice.”
How many women have to be raped before action can be taken against these perpetrators? When will there be a response to cut off this act of war and terrorism on these women? Is there even a credible and strong enough plan that can be enacted against this multiple decade long cycle of violence? There must be a solution to stop this cycle; no one has yet to come to any lasting conclusion to this end. The reports by other agencies of the mass rapes in December 2010 in the same area stated that those atrocities occurred within 300 meters of a U.N Peacekeeping mission.
The work at the Centre Kitumaini and the Panzi Hospital are stepping up to the need of these women and providing a place of protection and healing. The Atma Foundation, a US based NGO, has also partnered with the Centre Kitumaini to provide each woman there with a chicken, goat and seeds to empower them to start their life again on their terms with sustainable income from the sale of eggs, milk and food for themselves and their children. Atma Foundation stated, “We know that solutions can only come from listening and working diligently and effectively within all of our communities.”
“The women meet together to discuss amongst themselves the best approach to allocating their monetary funds. They then share their wants and need with us. They want to economic independence and choices for the rest of their lives. They want futures based on their strength, they want education and strong futures for their children, they want to be heard and they do not want a hand out.” Alysha Atma, Founder and Executive Director Not one more woman should have to suffer a fate like this in any country. Sadly the Congo remains one of the top three most dangerous places to be a woman due to the extensive sexual violence that occurs on a daily basis.
On Saturday July 2, 2011 the Atma Foundation is hosting and participating in a 5K Seeds for Hope, family walk/run where the volunteers were challenged to raise $500USD in order to plan 15 acres of produce that will be sustained by the women of the center and is irrigated by a water system alongside the field. As of this publication, Atma Foundation has raised over $800, enough to plant over 20 acres and feed almost 2,000 women and children. If there is extra produce the women will begin to set up produce stands and sell the food, enabling many of them to begin to pay school fees for their children.
If you wish to donate to this cause please visit www.atma-foundation.org and click on the pay pal donation button. All proceeds raised will go to the Seeds for Hope campaign and any further monies received will be used to purchase a van to transport the women to the Panzi Hospital as well as meet rent and structural needs of the facility.
On a side note, this is the fourth article in the last two months this writer has penned on this topic. The images and stories should not leave one’s mind until a solution to the problem can be found. This writer knows the magnitude of this problem and hopes that it spurs just one more person to act on behalf of these beautiful, strong women and children.
If you want peace work for justice!
Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.
Jennifer has extensive background working with victims of trauma and domestic violence, justice matters as well as individual and family therapy. Passionate and focused on bringing the many humanitarian issues that plague the African Continent to the awareness of the developed world in order to incite change. She is a correspondent, Assistant Editor, and Volunteer Coordinator for NGO News Africa through the volunteer project of the UN. Jennifer is also the media co-coordinator and senior funding executive for The Africa Global Village (www.africaglobalvillage.com) Jennifer comes to www.Salem-News.com with a great deal of experience and passion for working to stop human right violation in Africa.
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