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May 18th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

War on women in Congo

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/05/12/icrc.drc.congo.red.cross/art.v-p-cd-e-00872h.jpg]

Eve Ensler
Special to CNN

I write today on behalf of countless V-Day activists worldwide, and in solidarity with my many Congolese sisters and brothers who demand justice and an end to rape and war.

It is my hope that these words and those of others will break the silence and break open a sea of action to move Congolese women toward peace, safety and freedom.

My play, "The Vagina Monologues," opened my eyes to the world inside this world. Everywhere I traveled with it scores of women lined up to tell me of their rapes, incest, beatings, mutilations. It was because of this that over 11 years ago we launched V-Day, a worldwide movement to end violence against women and girls.

The movement has spread like wildfire to 130 countries, raising $70 million. I have visited and revisited the rape mines of the world, from defined war zones like Bosnia, Afghanistan and Haiti to the domestic battlegrounds in colleges and communities throughout North America, Europe and the world. My in-box - and heart - have been jammed with stories every hour of every day for over a decade.

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Janet

    Mike in NYC
    " To put it simply, I don’t believe in saving people from themselves."

    Do you believe that these girls and woman are doing this to themselves? No, you are not responsible for what is happening to these woman, but you are responsible for spreading the angry attitude that allows these attrocities to continue. Maybe if you and others like you were to take a more compassionate attitude, it would start to spread.

    For you sake, I hope your friends and family don't share your attitude, if, God forbid, you experience somthing so horrendous.

    May 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Autumn

    Mike, you think these women are doing this to themselves? Why is it "them" and "us"? They are human beings and so are you. Isn't that a strong enough connection?
    I am well-aware that the problems facing the African nations are vast and have been that way for many, many, many years, but I don't prescribe to the notion that ignorance is bliss. It doesn't make me sleep at night to ignore suffering and let it fester for another thousand years. I completely understand your point of view about tax money, but there are certainly other pressures that can be applied to these governments by the US and neighboring African nations. Positive and simple steps in the right direction are trying to spread the word and raise private money–that's how all revolutions start.
    Mike in NYC, you obviously sleep well at night in your own corner of the world and I'm happy for that. I'm different. I don't think I can stop caring and that's just the way I am made. I can only hope that more people agree with me than you.

    May 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Darin

    It's so ridiculous that women are still being treated like this in the world. It's disgusting that men are cruel and violent, and take advantage of someone defenseless. There's no respect for human life. It's sickening how women are disregarded like dirty toilet paper. I'm truly disgusted and saddened that this is happening right now in so many places in the world. I feel so sad for these young girls and women, and even more sad that the attitude of cruel men will never change.

    May 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  4. Palak

    Thank you Anderson for posting this article and giving an opportunity for folks to read and learn about how women are suffering in other parts of the world.
    Mike, you are very right- when you say Charity begins at home. You may like to speak about these sufferings to your friends and bring about awareness. We are all created to be equal in the eyes of our Creator, and we have been entrusted with the responsibility to be there for each other in brotherhood…to care and to share. It is only when we would care for our friends and foes equally, we would prosper in our own eyes.

    It is so sad to watch women treated as second class citizens in many parts of our world. It brings fear in my heart to realize that a Man forgets that it is a ‘Woman’ who has gifted him this beautiful life and he himself refuses to acknowledge the fact and give her the due respect. Whether men agree or not…it is woman who is the pillar of the family. She has been gifted the strength to either build or destroy her family. She is the one who nourishes her family with value system, food, love and keeps it alive and healthy as a nuclear unit. We are still living in a very hypocritical society. Here and in many other advanced countries, we feel women are safe and are being treated equal to men of the society and are protected by legislation. However, this may not be true in majority of the cases. In Darfur no legislation even exists to protect women.

    May 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  5. Jeanette

    Yes it certainly is our responsibility to help, but some of our countrymen are tired of being the only ones to take on the responsibility of the whole world. Then after we try to help other countries they wind up hating us.

    We always wind up in wars for this very reason while other countries sit back and condemn us for starting wars. We are damned if we do and damned it we don't. Cant win.

    May 18, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Mike in NYC

    I don't feel any responsibility because it's not my fault.

    To put it simply, I don't believe in saving people from themselves. But if you want to go and try, Autumn and Susan, feel free. Private money is fine. Just don't lobby your representatives to spend my tax dollars on your causes. That being said, multi-billion dollar "humanitarian interventions" are probably on the way whether I like it or not.

    May 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Robert DeNira

    Congo and most of Africa would be better served if it were ruled by the EU. These poor bastards need to be controlled. Vote for re-colonisation of Africa.

    May 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  8. shelly

    I agree with the comments above by Jeremy and Scott, as for Mikes comment it only makes me question two things "responsibility" and 'home". I wonder and tend to believe that perhaps it is all or our responsibility by being human and hopefully a compassionate one, for if the tables were turned we might hope for a compassionate human stranger to help us in times of turmoil.
    Home what a word, and for charity to begin there one must really define "home". I wonder and tend to believe that if home is only the square footage on earth we pay for or is it outside the perimeters of the walls to extend without limit calling earth home.
    We are all home here on earth and cannot pretend we don't see these atrocities without some accountability and compassion to help those in need whatever the distance ........ in my humble opinion.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  9. Susan

    AC, thank you SO MUCH for keeping this issue in the forefront. It's absurd that Mike in NYC thinks it's not his responsibility. We are all human beings, and if atrocities are committed against other human beings, it is our responsibility to do what we can to help. Personally I have raised over $3000 for the Women of the Congo through Women for Women International.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  10. Lisa Griffiths VIC Australia

    What is still worse than the rape, torture and abuse, is that afterwards woman and girls are still shunned and blamed as if they were at fault.
    In a place like the Congo if communities banded together and supported their woman after such actions have been taken against them, without the desired fear they would eventually stop.

    Woman are strong and can bare much with the love and support of their families. Woman are victimised to bring down a community, it brings down and shatters a society everytime this is allowed to occur.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  11. Autumn

    Mike in NYC: How can you read about this and not feel some responsibility? It is the responsibility of all humankind when people are oppressed, beaten, murdered and humiliated on a daily basis. Even if we feel powerless to help, we aren't. Just learning about and giving them a voice to our own government representatives is a step in the right direction. All change takes time and as long as one person cares there will be a day when the "dark continent," as you refer to Africa, won't be so dark.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  12. Malini

    This has been going on for decades, but nobody pays attention because it is the so called 'dark' continent. US is stretched thin, but some European countries could contribute. In addition, emerging countries like China and India would contribute but are a bit lacking in committment due to the support they get from African countries in UN votes.

    May 18, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  13. Scott Stodden

    It is so sad what women have to go through in other countries around the world, from being treated like dirt all the way to being raped, we need to spread the word of democracy around the world, even more than we already have

    May 18, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  14. Jeremy

    It is a lack of respect for human beings, especially women. It makes me upset when i read about the ignorance in the world, and i make sure my children are aware of it and know when to recognise intolerance and to have the curage to speek out againt it.

    May 18, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  15. Mike in NYC

    Another day, another catalog of atrocities in the Dark Continent.

    Horrible, yes, but not my responsibility. Charity begins at home.

    May 18, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  16. Cherisa

    It sounds as though the testimonies were well-received by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. People like Eve Ensler and John Prendergast are doing a fantastic job, but it's also up to us to keep this issue front and center before our legislators.

    May 18, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  17. Cindy

    It is so sad and ridiculous that after all of this time that these rapes and torturings are still going on in the Congo at all! It is definitely time for this world to wake up!! Allowing these atrocities to continue while we turn a blind eye is hypocritical to say the least.

    We say that we care so much for people yet have done nothing to help these women. My thoughts are that is because they are poor, live far away so we don't have to see it, and we have this mentality if it isn't happening to us it doesn't matter. Yet it does! Too bad we don't see that more clearly!

    I just hope that some sense of normalcy can be brought about there and that these men doing this crap will be prosecuted to the fullest. That's the only way to stop it. If the men go unchecked like they do now it'll never stop!

    Cindy..Ga.

    Cindy..Ga.

    May 18, 2009 at 10:00 am |