Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction

Since George W. never found any WMD, it seems as though the real WMD, rape, may be getting a little time on the international agenda.

Rape, mass rape, brutalization and scarring of women's gentalia and reproductive systems as an act of terrorism is not a new tool of war!However,because of pandering and buck-passing, it is only now getting much needed international attention. In the case of the Congo, a entire hospital has formed in response to the need for repair of women's internal organs after these vicious and horrendous attacks. These unimaginable situations are not only happening in Congo, but in Darfur and other areas where genocide and decades of civil war are playing out.

Soldiers seeking to divide and conquer, terrorize and just plain destroy communities do so by seeking out women,most times girls to violate in the name of war. Why the lack of media attention, you ask? Some international aid organizations deem this as solely a criminal issue while others stick it under the human rights umbrella( which often keeps other orgs far away from it)allowing no one to take real responsibility for demanding results to protect the innocents of war.

Here's an excerpt on the purpose of Panzi Hospital in South Kivu,Congo....

The gynecologists at the GRHP have been practicing in the province for 25 years. A new pathology has emerged as a result of the war: genitourinary fistula secondary to sexual violence. These acts are committed not by known persons within the survivors circle, but by perpetrators from outside. The aim is the destruction of the community within which she lives. Once committed the survivor, her husband, children and extended family become traumatized and humiliated as well as members of the community. It aims to ruin relationships thus promoting dysfunctional family units. The Christian values that normally exist strongly within the Congolese communities have been lost as a result of the atrocities. As well our research has been limited by focusing on the medical statistics with no mention of the psychological trauma experienced by these women.

One such story involves a young woman and her aunt coming from the field in Baraka, a village in the south of South Kivu. Upon reaching the river, they were intercepted by seven solders who forced them to carry each of them on their back in order to cross the river. After carrying the soldiers the young lady was forced to have sexual intercourse with each soldier. The last soldier inserted the point of a gun within her vagina and shot a bullet causing destruction of her vagina, bladder, rectum and buttocks. She was taken to a medical center in Baraka, from where she was transferred to GRHP by the ICRC. She underwent six surgical procedures before being transferred to Addis Ababa for further treatment.

This triggered an outcry from our institution. Our denouncement of sexual violence towards the population has been heard by Doctors without Borders, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. Observers from these organizations have been dispatched to these villages and after a report from Human Rights Watch our issue has been heard by the international community. We have been fortunate to receive donations and investments by many organizations and hospitals. Experts in psychological war have also become involved in attempts to put an end to the practice of abusing women as an instrument of war. Since 2002, humanitarian efforts have intensified and the international community sensitized to the issue, making our cause a globally recognized issue.

The hospital is carrying a major torch in the rehabilitaion of survivors of these despicable attacks.In addition to psychological counseling (often with husbands)survivors are trained in sewing, soap making and other livelihood skills to enable them to reintegrate into society with a newfound/restored sense of worth.

So after all that- what's a lady/girl/man/boy to do? Read more here- for info on gender-related violence. You can also ensure that your senator supports Foreign Relations Committee's plan for rejevenating the State Department's Gender efforts including a unified "Office of Women's Global Initiatives"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Retourner et Ecrire.....

Hey You!

*crickets chirping*

Well even if there is no one listening- I thought it important to come back to the blog world. At least for a minute anyway. Thanks Silvia!!! ( Why is it that someone else always has to inspire me to come back to my own blog?????) I guess the truest answer is that I've been trying to live life more and be in the moment- which often times cancels out time to stop and right about it. But hey look at me now!!!! I'm flying on this thing.....

I suppose I should use this "return" blog as a reintroduction/update piece. Maaaaannnn, where do I begin? Since it would be in neither of our interests to recap everything that has happened since Sept. 07 I'll fast-forward to today and give you a list of things currently on my plate.

1. Sahana!!!- Yay she is one now and getting so big, rather just being big. She walks and tries to talk a bit too.

2. I'm in Bham with my sweetie pie. I've been out of DC since about a week before Xmas 07 and its been great being away from that great stresser of a living situation! That entire scenario was threatening my chi in a major way. So, ummm glad to say that it's done for!!!

3.Fellowships- Since I left DC I took the first month or so recouping and figuring out the next path in life. I interviewed for two really prestigious fellowships in the last month ( one just yesterday) and Inshallah I'll be off maximizing one of those opportunities in the Fall.

4. Bicycles, Cameras, and Sewing Machines- new hobbies.. Did I mention I can even make shoes?????

5. Books- My Ladygirlfriends and I are in a uber-hip bookclub just blocks from my house that has also kept my days in Bham filled with some degree of intellectual dialogue.

6. Manuscripts, Manuscripts and Manuscripts- I just have to get two of these published while I'm on Sabbatical- Did I mention that that's what I'm calling this time off????

So there you have it- the past 5 months of my life in a nutshell. In my next post, I'll try to either elaborate on the above enumerated list or go on to something completely random.