V-Day Events in Kinshasa
STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE Events in Kinshasa, V-Day visit to the DRC
On June 6, Eve Ensler and V-Day Managing Director Susan Celia Swan traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join V-Day Congo Director Christine Schuler Deschryver for events in Kinshasa and visits to Goma and Bukavu as part of V-Day and UNICEF's joint campaign STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE: Power to the Women and Girls of the DRC. Following is an update:
The trip has been full of great highs and lows. We started in Kinshasa, the capital city, where the V-Day movement has taken hold. There are over 100 activists working on sexual violence in the city, inspired to change consciousness and initiate lasting change.
On June 5, Eve and Christine spoke to the Congolese Parliament of over 500 ministers followed by a meeting with the activists. The next day, five women from various provinces around the country, all survivors of sexual violence, broke the silence in a major event attended by government, diplomatic and United Nations officials, activists and members of civil society. The women also delivered over 4000 letters to President Kabila written by campaign activists to the representative of the DRC's First Lady, who attended in her place. They told their stories with grace and heart and the over 500 men and women in the room listened with tears in their eyes. Each survivor demanded that the audience support the campaign, and commit to real actions to stop the violence that has affected hundreds of thousands of women and girls.
One woman explained her reason for speaking out, "...It is a cry on behalf of all women, those who have spoken out, and those still in hiding because of the stigmatization and the shame. ...in my eyes, all those who tolerate sexual violence, turn a blind eye, refuse to denounce and condemn these barbaric acts - they are all as guilty as those who commit these crimes...."
Another survivor acknowledged the power of the community that is building around the STOP RAPING OUR GREATEST RESOURCE efforts, "...We have chosen to speak out so that we can help each other to get back to our families and our lives... I know now that there is a network of activists all over the country. I am now a member, but until you speak up you cannot be heard. The solidarity from these groups helps a lot with the healing."
The finale of the day was a performance of The Vagina Monologues by five extraordinary Congolese actresses. The audience at the Hotel Sultani included hundreds of government ministers and diplomats, activists and civil society. Following the performance, the audience committed to address the issue and not only asked that a performance of the play be staged for the Parliament but that the play tour Congolese cities and villages, particularly where the people live without water and electricity and are cut off from television. The Congolese participants made the play their own, sparking an unparalleled dialogue between men and women in Congo. As a woman said at our follow up activist meeting - "the culture of Congo changed yesterday. The taboo was broken." We wish you could have been there to hear the men talk about what they've learned about vaginas, and what women said about needing to look at themselves and needing men to look at their vagina. The Human Rights Minister and Gender Ministers were chanting 'vagine.'
Eve Speaks About Conflict Minerals At D7 Conference
On May 26, Eve spoke at the seventh annual D: All Things Digital conference which features technology leaders speaking on the impact digital technology has on our lives, now and in the future. Eve spoke to a sold out audience about the link between the conflict mineral which are used in cell phones, laptops, and gaming systems and the ongoing, brutal rape of women and girls in the DRC.