The Atrocities Committed Against Women and Girls in the Congo Defy Imagination
By Marianne Schnall, The Women's Media Center.
Behind the headlines heralding potentially positive developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), women and girls continue to be at risk. Media outlets report the arrest of rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda and the possibility of peace openings, but the eastern region where women and girls have been savagely raped and mutilated remains traumatized.
With all the bad news facing the world right now, you might prefer not knowing the horrific details of these women’s stories. “Yes, it’s difficult to hear about,” says playwright/activist Eve Ensler, “but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear.”
It is precisely because Ensler feels not enough people are aware of the atrocities taking place in the Congo that she, and her anti-violence against women organization V-Day, are going on the road this month, in a five-city U.S. tour featuring her in conversation with Dr. Denis Mukwege, a heroic gynecologist and the director of Panzi Hospital in eastern Congo who treats, performs surgeries and offers counseling to the women there. Together Mukwege and Ensler will expose the extreme cases of violence against women in the DRC -- to date an estimated 400,000 women and girls have been raped -- and relay the stories of survivors who are coming together and breaking the silence.The disturbing stories that have come out of the Congo defy imagination: women and young girls being raped by militia men in front of their families; rape victims ranging from as young as six months to as old as 83 years; women and girls faced with unwanted pregnancies and raped intentionally by men known to have AIDS. There is also a devastating epidemic of women and girls whose vaginas and reproductive organs have been completely destroyed from being violated with guns, bottles and sticks, often resulting in a condition called fistula, a rupture that results in the uncontrollable leakage of urine and feces. ..........