Women Breaking the Silence -- Historic Events Take Place in Goma and Bukavu, DRC
In September 2008, V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On September 12th in Goma, and on September 19th in Bukavu, V-Day in partnership with UNICEF, organized two day-long events, "Women Breaking the Silence" as part of the joint global campaign: “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to Women and Girls in Democratic Republic of Congo." The event featured for the first time in the history of the DRC survivors of sexual violence publicly speaking out against their rapes and the impact of violence on their lives. In front of authorities from the government of the DRC, the United Nations, various Embassies to the DRC, representatives from North Kivu civil society, and campaign activists, seven women told their stories of rape and issued a call to the world to put an end to the sexual violence that has afflicted hundreds of thousands of women and girls in the country.
Sexual violence in the eastern DRC continues at epidemic proportions. Rape is used as a weapon of war to torture and humiliate women and girls. This systemic sexual violence and femicide not only destroys women and young girls but also entire families and communities. Survivors often suffer in silence, fearing stigma and ostracism. In addition to the severe psychological impact, many survivors are left with genital lesions, traumatic fistulae and other physical wounds, as well as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Local response to support survivors is hindered by a lack of resources. There is near total impunity for these crimes as perpetrators almost always walk free.
"Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo" is being initiated by the women of Eastern DRC, V-Day and UNICEF on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. The campaign calls for an end to the violence and to impunity for those who commit these atrocities.
Letter From Eve From Goma
I am writing at 6AM as we board the five-hour boat ride from Goma to Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The sky is a V-Day pink as the sun rises over Lake Kivu, the sound of tropical birds, the greenest flora, and a morning alive with hundreds of passengers and porters and travelers. I have been here over a week and it has been full of many extremes - enormous despair, potential violence, criminal poverty, regular power failures, tropical storms, streets of dried lava from the last volcano, and encroaching war. Laurent Nkunda's forces were at one point this week within 27 kilometers of Goma. Moments where we were not allowed to travel, moments when the event was almost canceled as the security threat was too great, but we prevailed.
Letter From Eve From Bukavu
First thank you for your wonderful reactions to the last update. I feel you all here with me and that gives me hope and strength. It is Sunday morning. The birds are out and I am in the green green world of Bukavu. I am trying to find words to describe this week and the ongoing war and madness that is eastern Congo.
The morning after I arrived here, Panzi Hospital was attacked by a gang of bandits. The hospital staff were literally fighting off attackers with sticks. Ambulances and important transport vehicles were vandalized. Windows of the hospital were smashed. Many people were injured, patients and staff. I saw the bruised face of a woman who had made it to Panzi after being raped only to find the place that was meant to be secure, completely insecure. It is hard to tell what caused this outbreak of violence. There was a violent incident in the community which touched it off, but the province of South Kivu is essentially a state of violence. The entire population is traumatized from ten years of genocide and femicide. It is estimated that in this time over 5 million have died in the Congo and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped. In the first six months of this year there were 3500 reported cases of rape in North and South Kivu, What this has done to the psyche of the people is so vast and so deep. The attack on the hospital heightened how things can change here on a dime. How there is no real security and no real government. It took the police over 4 hours to react.
Snapshots Of The Stories Of Survivors Who Broke The Silence
Read testimonials from the women and girls in Goma and Bukavu of the Democratic Republic of Congo.