Thursday, August 23, 2007

Playwright fights for Congolese women

Eve Ensler is at it again, working endlessly to abolish violence against women. Especially sexual violence, as her efforts have turned to war-torn countries, mainly in Africa.
(For original article, click here)
"Eve Ensler has just returned from hell. That's how the author of "The Vagina Monologues" describes her trip to Congo, where thousands of women have been sexually attacked and mutilated in the African nation's civil war.
The 54-year-old playwright has joined with the United Nations in a campaign against what a U.N. expert called the worst violence against women in the world.
'In Congo, you're talking about a situation where Africans are hurting Africans, black people are hurting black people,' Ensler told The Associated Press in an interview from Italy. 'And it's harder to make people care. People say, 'Oh, it's just Africa.' And nobody is held accountable.'
She spent weeks at the Panzi Hospital in the city of Bukavu, in eastern Congo, where Dr. Denis Mukwege is helping to repair the broken bodies of war victims. The hospital sees about 3,500 women a year suffering fistula and other severe genital injuries.
A U.N. human rights expert said last month that the sexual atrocities in Congo's volatile province of South Kivu extend "far beyond rape" and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism.
From Geneva, Yakin Erturk called the situation the worst she had ever seen as the global body's special investigator for violence against women. She blamed Uganda-backed militias that occupy Congo's Ituri region, as well as the nation's armed forces and national police.
Erturk will report her findings in September to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"How do I tell you of girls as young as 9 raped by gangs of soldiers, of women whose insides were blown apart by rifle blasts and whose bodies now leak uncontrollable streams of urine and feces?" Ensler asks in an article in the September issue of Glamour magazine.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague is now considering indictments in connection with the atrocities. The court's probe started in 2004, instigated by Congo's president, Joseph Kabila.
Ensler is asking people to write letters to Kabila, demanding that he take stronger action to stop the attacks. Hundreds of letters already have arrived at the United Nations, which is forwarding them to the African leader, Ensler said.
She is working to raise both awareness and funds for the women through the United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict and through V-Day, a global movement she founded to stop violence against women and girls.
V-Day was inspired by the overwhelming audience response to "The Vagina Monologues," an award-winning play in which actors share anecdotes about their bodies that reveal heartbreaking and hilarious glimpses of their souls.
The V-Day movement has raised over $40 million in the past decade, funding thousands of community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Kenya, Egypt and Iraq, as well as the United States.
The money Ensler helps raise for Congo will go to Panzi hospital and to establish a safe haven called "City of Joy."
Her journey to Congo in May was inspired by a conversation she had with Mukwege last December in New York, where he spoke about his work — 'sewing up women's vaginas as fast as the mad militiamen are ripping them apart,' as Ensler describes it.
Their friendship 'began with my rusty French and his limited English,' she wrote. 'It began with the quiet anguish in his bloodshot eyes, eyes that seemed to me to be bleeding from the horrors he'd witnessed.'"

If anyone can read this without feeling rage, feeling helpless, feeling true sorrow, then go on with your life as it was. If you feel the need to donate your money and/or your time, check out the V-Day website for clues on how.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Women With Wings

This amazing group of women has so many wonderful missions on their plate. Their main focus right now is to go to Zimbabwe and Botswana to "give back the voice" to the women there! This project builds such emphasis on the voice women have, and especially the voice we do not use. It is a matter of rebuilding confidence and spirit, re-establishing strength and will. These women in Africa need that desperately.
Nan and Lorri really need help for this dream to fly. They need encouragement, but right now their greatest need is money. You can make tax-deductable donations here if you would like.
For all of my Houstonians (and Abilenians) I have another method. Nan and I have had some communication concerning getting these women to Houston for a project building! Now, we would be responsible for raising the funds to get them here and do what they need to do, but we would also need to help them build this Africa fund.
If you have any good fundraising ideas, PLEASE leave them here in a comment. Also, if you are comfortable doing so, I ask you to pray for these missions and efforts. Together, we women need to utilize our strong voice and send these angels to Africa!