read & take action re: sexual violence crisis

… As you likely have read, perhaps in Ms. two years ago or more recently in the New York Times, civil conflict in eastern Congo has spawned an epidemic of rape and sexual violence that the U.N. has called “almost unimaginable.” As of the Times report, the systematic attacks on women (and girls; don’t ask) by militias — and Congolese government troops themselves — had, despite the hope that last year’s elections might bring an end to widespread anarchy, reached “a scale never before seen.” According to the United Nations (which revealed in 2004 that some of its own workers there had taken part in sexual abuse), 27,000 sexual assaults were reported last year in South Kivu province, ground zero for the epidemic. As U.N. under secretary general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes told the Times,”The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world.” One doctor in South Kivu, who sees 10 new victims every day — some so “sadistically attacked…that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair” — said, “We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear: They are done to destroy women.”

Is there anything we can do to help these women — who are entering Panzi Hospital in South Kivu. at the rate of 200 a month? Writer Susannah Breslin of the Reverse Cowgirl blog found out. At the suggestion of the Times reporter, she e-mailed Erika Beckman, manager of the hospital’s Female Victims of Sexual Violence project. Breslin posted Beckman’s response in its entirety; it is harrowing, inspiring, and strongly recommended reading. The upshot is that you can make donations directly to this project, which provides not only provides the best possible gynecological care, but also psychological and legal counseling, transitional housing, literacy classes and training in craft-making with the goal of self-sustenance. …

more @ “‘They are done to destroy women’ – How to help victims of sexual violence in Congo”

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