Report from Haiti, May 23, 2011:
More than a year after a massive earthquake sent the city crumbling to the ground, the chaos continues to reverberate in refugee camps through a wave of systematic sexual violence. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported widespread rape and sexual violence against women. The IOM notes that rising reports of sexual violence may be “linked to a growing trust between survivors and the police and service providers,” but safety protections for women and girls are still desperately lacking. And the primary problem remains that, nearly one year and a half after disaster struck, some 680,000 people still languish in squalid encampments.
Behind each assault is a swelling humanitarian crisis that has bred violence, fear and desperation. Lacking infrastructure and electricity, Haiti’s camps for displaced residents are a seedbed for social instability, and by extension, sexual assault and violence.
The advocacy organization MADRE, working with the local NGO KOFAVIV, has investigated and documented the brutalization of women since the earthquake. In one documented case, a group of men abducted a woman, gang raped her, choked her until she opened her mouth and “bit off her tongue.” Last July, a woman was reportedly attacked when she went out to use the bathroom at night. Countless cases of rape go unreported, and a precious few will ever be investigated or prosecuted, due to unresponsive and ineffective law enforcement. Rape was not officially a crime in Haiti until 2005.
Actually, from 1492 on, with the arrival of the first European Catholics:
Alex Renton wrote in his 2007 piece The Rape Epidemic: "Rape's entry in any honest history of Haiti is a long one. Columbus's men raped and murdered the indigenous tribes they found when they landed on Hispaniola in 1492; French planters used the slaves they shipped from Africa for sex; and when those slaves threw out the French and declared the first Republic, rape and murder accompanied the event. In the 200 years since then, Haiti has seen nearly half its 60-odd heads of state overthrown or assassinated - and sexual violence has been a feature of most of that turmoil." This legacy has had a devastating impact on Haitian women and families.
Need I add that Haiti is still very, very Roman Catholic?
Then, there's the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted on November 25, 2011:
Eastern Congo has been called the "rape capital of the world" by U.N. Special Representative Margot Wallstrom. Reports record that 48 women are raped every hour. I have been working in the region for 10 years and have seen a tragic development in this unpunished crime against the heart of society.Be aware of the beginning of a wave to overturn this ugly, repulsive aspect of Penis Politics:
.... A week hearing terrifying stories of torture and rape. Multiple rapes. Violent, brutal rape. Rape with sticks and guns, even bayonets.
Women told me of their daily choice -- to stay at home and face starvation. Or, go out to the fields for food and be raped. Most women chose the latter. It had become the norm.
"The Vagina Monologues is a performance of a series of 15 monologues that deal with issues like violence against women, women's sexuality, how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves in relation to our sexual partners," said Lindsay Young, a member of the Vagina Monologue cast. "Every year the monologues are the same with the exception of one that changes every year to highlight a certain world issue."An outgrowth of The Vagina Monologues is V Day, the 15th anniversary of which will occur on February 14, 2013, marked by One Billion Rising, to be observed worldwide.
This year's spotlight campaign is violence against women and girls in Haiti. The proceeds from the screening of Miss Representation went to organizations that support the campaign. Since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in early 2010, women and girls are at a heightened risk for sexual assault according to a spokesperson for the Haitian Minister for Feminine Condition. V-day campaigns around the world wants justice for these women. The funds will help establish safe houses throughout Haiti with offices for legal assistance for survivors of violence.
"The Vagina Monologues morphed into an organization called V-Day whose mission is to end violence against females," said Julie Curti, a member of the Vagina Monologues education committee. "Tonight was a mix of a film to raise awareness and also a fundraising event."
Women all over the world walking in public areas, dancing, rising up and demanding an end to violence against women.