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Monday, May 20, 2024

Women victims of horrible atrocities

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It’s a term not many are familiar with, but like genocide it’s a strong reality in many sub-Saharan countries. In short, femicide is the act of committing violent crimes with the deliberate intent to destroy the very existence of a specific group; in this case females.

I became familiar with the term while reading an article by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. In the article, Ensler wrote of her recent trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, she learns the horrific stories of women who have been savagely raped and sexually tortured – all in an attempt to abolish the female species.

One woman from the village of Nindja; who amazingly survived unspeakable acts shared her experiences with Ensler.

“I was with my three children and my older brother; they told him, to have sex with me,” the 29-year-old woman said of the soldiers who captured her and others in her village. “He refused so they cut his head and he died.”

She was then made to drink her brother’s urine and eat his feces. She told Ensler how the soldiers killed 10 of her friends and then murdered her sons, ages 2 and 4; and her 1-year-old daughter.

“They flung my baby’s body on the ground like she was garbage. One after another, they raped me. From that my vagina and anus were ripped apart.”

The unidentified woman also explained the horrendous misfortune of another woman.

“One of the soldiers cut open a pregnant woman. It was a mature baby and they killed it. They cooked it and forced us to eat it.”

Another woman who encountered a soldier said that after she was brutally raped, the man pressed the gun on her vagina and shot his entire cartridge inside of her.

“I never saw such destruction. Her colon, bladder, vagina and rectum were basically gone. She lost her mind,” said Dr. Denis Mukwege who founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. His hospital is the only one in the area that treats women who are victims of violent rape.

I understand the explicit detail might be hard for you to read; it’s actually hard for me to write – but it’s my duty as a journalist to inform you. Besides, if women who endure such acts can talk about it; who am I to not write about it? Who are we to not educate ourselves of the destruction that’s taking place throughout the world? Who are we to not be motivated to make a difference?

When women go through such torture, not only do they have to deal with their physical scars, but also the mental ones. Think about it, these women have been subjected to horrendous acts, they’ve watched their families murdered, they’ve been rejected by their husbands, their bodies are missing parts – how does one bounce back from such atrocities?

As I read Ensler’s article, I became enraged with myself for complaining about a migraine. I was angry at the fact that two weeks ago when I had the flu, I couldn’t muster up the strength to come to work, yet these women have had bullets released in their vaginas!

It makes no sense. So, in an attempt to free myself of my own selfishness, regret, and remorse; I’ve decided to do something.

There’s a campaign to urge the end to femicide and raise money for various women’s groups in the Congo. I am writing to Joseph Kabila Kabange, Congo’s president; and encouraging him to be an effective leader and stop such violent acts on women. In addition, I’m making a financial contribution to the Panzi Hospital, who received a $70,000 water bill because a state agency learned the private hospital was receiving money from outside sources. The week of Ensler’s visit, the water was disconnected and the hospital staff had to carry buckets from neighboring areas.

The women of the Congo feel that they are invisible and have been forgotten. They think their suffering has no significance. I encourage you to show your support via one of the following methods:

1. Visit www.vday.org to make a monetary donation. The money will be used to establish a safe haven for women who have been healed at Panzi. There, they’ll learn to become political leaders.

2. Write a letter addressed to His Excellency, President Joseph Kabila Kabange. Send your letter to U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, P.O. Box 3862, New York, NY 10163. It will then be delivered to Kabange.

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