Saturday, March 08, 2008

CNN: Congolese Woman's Silent Scream is Heard

This story on CNN highlights the plight of women in the Congo on International Women's Day. Honorata Kizende's story is hard to hear, but it is one that must be heard. It's the story of hundreds of thousands of women in the Congo who have suffered gang rape and sexual slavery at the hands of soldiers fighting in a brutal civil war. According to the story, "An estimated 5.4 million people have died in Congo since 1998."

Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, speaks eloquently about not only the pain Kizende suffered at the hands of those soldiers, but the greater pain of not being heard.
Kizende, 55, is a spokeswoman for Women for Women International, a 16-year-old group that helps rebuild the lives of women victimized by violent conflict in countries such as Kosovo, Iraq and Colombia.

The group was founded by Zainab Salbi, a 38-year-old Iraqi-American who knows something about brutality. She grew up under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, where people who spoke out were often murdered.

"My image of the Congolese women is that of a scream," Salbi said. "But there is no sound coming from the scream because the world is not hearing it."

That's because the victims are women, she said.
Too often humanitarian crises on the African continent are all but ignored by the US, the UN and the International Community. There's a story or two on the news, there are words and resolutions, but very little action. Very few troops or resources are committed to end the violence. They simply do not get the same kind of attention that this kind of crisis would if it occurred in Europe or the Middle East or some place considered "strategically" important. That this many people can die, that this many women can be raped and victimized without a hue and cry and demand for action from the world is truly tragic.

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