Eve Ensler, founder of the Vagina Monologues and the anti-VAW non-profit, V-Day, says it best in the opening of her most recent article about the war rapes of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Ensler nails the sentiments that we at The Pixel Project team has felt as we continue to share updates and stories about the development and progress of this particular case of vicious atrocity against women since we were born as an organisation. In the last 6 months alone, we shared a mixed bag of news:
- We put the spotlight on Lisa Shannon, the founder of Run for Congo Women, as one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.
- We posted a Male Ally spotlight featuring an interview with Dr Denis Mukvege by The Guardian about the work he and his team at Panzi Hospital do every day to treat and heal war rape survivors.
- We dared to hope when, for the first time ever, a Congolese court has sentenced an army colonel to 20 years in prison, convicting him of crimes against humanity in the highest-profile sexual violence case ever prosecuted in a nation in which thousands are brutally raped each year.
- We wept when we read about how nearly 200 women and four baby boys were gang-raped by Rwandan and Congolese rebels in a brazen attack near a UN peacekeepers’ base and nothing was done to prevent it.
- We shared the great news about the opening of City of Joy by Eve Ensler and her collaborators to help survivors of war rape in the Congo put their lives back together again.
- We have consistently tweeted the statistic of over 1,100 women and girls raped per day well before the upcoming American Journal of Public Health report loudly proclaimed it.
Violence against women (VAW) is a notoriously difficult and painful issue. It’s not a cause that is easy for people to get behind, unlike animal or child welfare causes, or even cancer because it involves facing the ugliness of humanity and one-half of humanity suffers because of they were born female which is drawing a very short straw in many communities and cultures worldwide.
Let’s face it: the issue of VAW is also a deeply personal one because all of us have mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, female friends, female cousins, female co-workers. We don’t like thinking that they might face violence at some point in their lives because they are women and girls and for no other reason than that.
And the case of the ongoing war rapes and sexual violence against women in the Congo is a classic illustration of how the issue is so painful to even read about that it can paralyse us from taking much-needed action. It can make us forget that every action, no matter how small, matters.
But it does.
Here are two examples of individuals just like you and us who have stepped up to do something about it:
Our lovely followers on Twitter brought to our attention that comic book writer and translator, Kelly Sue DeConnick, is taking action after hearing about the horrifying war rape statistics on NPR.
Ms DeConnick says:
I’m often left feeling impotent by the news. I mean, these women are a world away from me. What can I do? I suffer from the same chronic deficiencies of time and money as just about everyone else I know. But I haven’t been able to shake that number from my mind. 1,100. Every day.
She will be taking part in the WomenforWomen.org 5k run on 23 July 2011 and hopes to raise just US$200. In her latest update, she has wildly surpassed her goal. You can still either support her fundraising effort by clicking here and making a small donation or taking part in the run yourself to raise even more funds for the effort.
Last week, we cheered when we read and shared the story of Chris Jackson’s amazing 12 marathons in 12 months in 2010 to raise funds for the women of the Congo. He ruined his knees and ankles, lost his girlfriend at the time and missed a ton of family events to fulfil his promise and his goal.
This year, Mr Jackson has taken on a new challenge to raise even more funds for the women of the Congo. This year, he’s canoeing for Congo!
In his own words: “Last year I ran, this year I paddle…”
Start subscribing to his blog and start contributing to his efforts – every cheer of support for him and every cent/penny helps!
Both Ms DeConnick and Mr Jackson are raising money for the women of the Congo via Women for Women International who ensure that all donations go straight to helping the women. Here is a short video about how Women for Women International help the situation in the Congo:
We hope that both Ms DeConnick and Mr Jackson’s efforts will inspire all of you to take action to stop violence against women wherever you are.
Both of them show that anybody can take action to stop violence against women. Every single contribution to the cause, be it donating your efforts, donating your talents or donating money, helps even in the face of the most terrifying of atrocities against women.
At the very least, it helps push the cause to end violence against women forward, inch by inch, in the right direction.
So read this, think about it, get some ideas, and take action.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project