I know that rape has been used as a tool in war for a long time. It’s a way to exert control, flaunt power, lower morale and undermine the spirit. In my opinion, it’s probably the worst violation that can happen to a person, with survivors living through an incredibly painful psychological aftermath that can include both physical and emotional scars.
Eve Ensler has decided to try to combat the negative impact with a positive one.
Ensler’s organization V-Day (which works to end violence against women using funds from benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues) has teamed up with UNICEF to organize a campaign that will bring attention to the use of rape as a weapon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among other projects, Ensler envisions the campaign will enable the opening of The City of Joy, an all-female village with a focus on helping survivors heal, both physically and psychologically:
The city, which Ensler hopes to open in September 2009, will offer counseling, education and entrepreneurial training to rape victims.
Ensler says she’s met plenty of Congolese women who are primed to “turn their pain into power.” Some are already risking their lives to report their rape and stand up to men, she says.
“These are the strongest and most incredible women on the planet,” Ensler says. (from CNN)
I know Ensler is a controversial person; she pisses people off and doesn’t always make the best decisions. But it’s great to see her taking some action on the matter. She had this to say about it:
As I write to you, I quote one survivor, Janet, who was raped so violently that the rapist pulled the leg out of her socket (she will be permanently handicapped), who, when I asked her if she was afraid to tell her story, said “I’ve always been courageous. Always will be courageous. If the military want to kill me for telling my story, I am ready to die.” These words have moved me to be braver, to be more outspoken, to be more strategic, to include more people in making the DRC safe and free for women. For making the world safe and free for women in every corner of this planet.
Read more about Ensler’s experiences in the DRC here.
Learn more about the DRC here.
Want to get involved? Go here. There are options from purchasing bags to support the campaign and writing letters all the way up to hosting a teach in.