Target: President Obama
Goal: Publicly condemn sexual assault as a weapon of war and bring international attention to this human rights abuse.
Sexual assault as a weapon is unfortunately, as old as war itself. But the atrocities happening in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo must end. The systemic rape of women is both a symbol of power for soldiers on any side of a conflict and the status of women as subordinates. U.N. officials have called Congo “the rape capital of the world,” and only a handful of rapists have been punished for their actions.
Rape and sex crimes are considered taboo and too intimate to discuss openly, but the roughly 200,000 Congolese women and girls who have been assaulted during wartime deserve our time, compassion and voices. Survivors of wartime rape often do not step forward, because they are seen as cursed women, ostracized from their communities and shunned by what family members have survived the conflicts. Often, these women have external genital damage, become pregnant at the hands of their attacker or have been infected with HIV, requiring medical attention that can be hard to come by in such harsh conditions. To ease the pain and allow these survivors to find life after trauma, we must speak up and find a way to aid in their emotional and medical needs.
Please urge President Obama to publicly condemn sexual violence during wartime and encourage other countries to do the same to aid these victims.
Dear President Obama,
Upward of 200,000 Congolese women and girls have been raped by men who see sexual assault as a weapon of war. Hardly any of these attackers are punished for their actions, and survivors of wartime rape have a host of emotional and physical problems that last a lifetime.
Many survivors do not admit to being raped, for fear that they will be seen as cursed or shunned by family members. They are also often impregnated, infected with HIV and suffer external and psychological damage at the hands of their attackers. The lack of adequate medical care in such areas further endangers the long term well-being of these women — and more must be done to rehabilitate survivors, treat their physical and emotional scars and prevent this from happening in the future.
These victims deserve more than a passing glance. The United States and the U.N. can openly speak up to condemn these war crimes, bring the guilty to justice and give these women and girls a chance at lives without fear or a stigma they don’t deserve.
Please publicly speak up to give a voice to these voiceless women, condemn rape as a war crime and work more closely with the U.N. and other nations to provide aid.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steve Evans