Lucienne M’Maroyi is a 24-year-old woman who has been separated from her husband since she was raped. She is in the Bwirhonzi group of Walungu, the mother of three daughters, the third of whom resulted from her rapes as a sex slave. She named her baby Luck because the people with whom she was taken in the bush were killed, but she was lucky not to have been killed along with them. (read full story at Women for Women International)
Violence broke out in the city of Goma Wednesday, sending civillians fleeing their homes and taking refuge in schools and churches. According to the UNICEF 1,000s of people fleeing violence elsewhere had arrived in Goma and still 1,000s more were moving North to escape the violence in the city that had followed them. The UN also reported that the violent conflict in the Congo, long linked to escaped armies involved in the genocide in Rwanda among other internal issues, has recently resulted in shooting across the border between current troops in Rwanda and the Hutu rebels, hiding out in the DRC, who want to return to power there.
150,000 people were still listed as missing or unable to be contacted by the UN as a fragile ceasefire came into effect this a.m. Many aid workers and state employees were told to stay home yesterday and were asked to decide with caution whether to return today.
As I said yesterday, the UN peacekeeping force in the Congo, the largest deployment of troops the UN currently has, is overstretched and having an increasingly hard time protecting civilians and distributing needed aid. Women and children remain the most impacted by this instability for reasons covered in my multiple posts on the Congo, including: rape, sexual assault, CSA, and intentionally maiming of the vaginal and anal area to create fistulas. Most of the West has remained largely silent about the 14 year conflict because the instability benefits Western companies who trade not only in the minerals used to make laptops and cellphones but also rain forest wood that would otherwise be off limits.
You can help by giving to Women for Women International, who run job training, education, and aid programs specifically for women in the DRC and recently organized a Run for Congo Women campaign, that I wrote about earlier on the blog, to raise money across the U.S. to help women in the DRC.
You can also help by voting for Congresspeople and a Presidential candidate who have made a commitment to ending violence against women globally or have shown understanding and willingness to engage in humanitarian aid in the face of genocide. If you are unclear who these candidates are, check their voting records. Presidential candidates who have committed to addressing Genocide include: Obama, McKinney, Nader. Joe Biden was also the author of the Violence Against Women Act and the International Violence Against Women Act which condemns the use of rape as a weapon of war, provides provisions for asylum for women escaping DSV and war related gender violence, and commits our support to the International Law Court charged with prosecuting war crimes including violence against women. You can also see the responses of Biden, Palin, McCain, and Obama to questions about genocide in my write ups of the debates. However, keep in mind that Palin said she voted for divestment in the Congo during the debate when in fact she fought against it.
After the elections, write your Congress people and tell them to help put an end to unchecked violence against women in the DRC and the 14 years of war.
(read more about the latest conflict in the DRC here)
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