“In certain cafés close to medical colleges in Pakistan, and of course within the institutions themselves, students studying gynaecology speak of some unexpected sights they have seen.
‘Recently, we examined a woman who complained of pain in her genital region. We were shocked to see when we examined her that she had suffered some mutilation of her private parts. I have read about these practices but I didn’t know they took place here,’ Zeba Khan, a 4th year medical student, told IRIN.”
“All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they “know.” They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.”
Even with the City of Joy open and operating in the Congo, women continue to be abused at the hands of power-driven men. Check this video out for the untold stories of these girls and women: The Greatest Silence.
I wrote a short blurb for a photo essay last year bearing a lighter note, but the severity of the situation remains.
Here is that photo essay celebrating a step in the right direction, but not nearly the end of this war against women. (published in Excalibur March 2011)
On Feb. 4, 2011, women of the Democratic Republic of Congo danced and sang at the opening celebration of Bukavu’s City of Joy.
Jurate Kazickas of Women’s eNews quotes Eve Ensler, Vagina Monologues playwright and V-Day founder, in explaining the initiative’s potential: “The City of Joy will be a gathering place for the women to find their voices, their vision and their power. And when the women find their power, all of the Congo will change.”
For 13 years, over 500,000 Congolese women have been subjected to rape, kidnapping and forced prostitution. The survivors of these atrocities continue to be shunned in their communities as a result of the stigma attached to rape victims.
The City of Joy creates a safe haven where women can find privacy, therapeutic council and education, and can learn life-skills that will allow them to cultivate their voices rather than have them stifled. Donning black t-shirts that read “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource,” women establish their worth and unyielding spirit.
Though United Nation peacekeepers have entered the area, their presence has failed to prompt dramatic social change. When asked how to begin amending these deeply-rooted injustices in the Congo, Ensler responded, “You build an army of women.”
HollerDay! powered by Journalists for Human Rights - video
Hope in the City of Joy by Charlize Theron for Huffington Post
Visit City of Joy - V-Day Congo campaign page for lots more info.
Karen Tse: How to Stop Torture
Michelle Shephard is the national security reporter for the Toronto Star. Her involvement with Guantanamo Bay has been extensive. Her newly published book “Decade of Fear” consolidated 10 years of Shephard’s “reporting from terrorism’s grey zone.” I highly recommed it. Regarding Guantanamo, she has primarily reported on the detainment of Omar Kadhr - a Canadian. Her book provides a chilling reality of how journalists themselves are treated at the facility. Finally, Shephard writes in today’s article that the closing of Guantanamo is not in sight for this year.
Amnesty International has long been advocating the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay. They summarize its human rights violations as such, “shocking abuses, including arbitrary and secret detentions, torture and ill-treatment, renditions, and unfair trials.”
Today, on the 10th anniversary of its opening, Amnesty writes on the failure of the U.S. government to close the “notorious prison.”
"In 10 years, only one of the 779 detainees held at the base has been transferred to the USA for prosecution in an ordinary federal court. Others have faced unfair trials by military commission. The administration is currently intending to seek the death penalty against six of the detainees at such trials."
For a counter argument on why Guantanamo is needed read Edwin Meese II’s article for CNN.
"There have been 779 detainees at Guantanamo. Today, there are only 171. But over the past decade, we have not only kept dangerous terrorists at Guantanamo and thus away from the battlefield, we have learned a great deal from them during long-term, lawful interrogations. Without a safe, secure detention and interrogation facility, we would not have gained the tactical and strategic intelligence needed to degrade and ultimately defeat the enemy."
New York Times, "Give Guantanamo Back to Cuba" by Jonathan M. Hasen