Monday, June 01, 2009

Silence is the enemy: Marching orders from Comrade PhysioProf

From Comrade PhysioProf this morning:
This morning begins a coordinated blogospheric effort to draw attention to the ongoing horror of mass rape of women and girls in Liberia, which continues despite the end of civil war:

Jackie is too young to remember the 14-year civil war in Liberia, from 1989 to 2003, when as many as three-fourths of women were raped. Jackie’s world is one of a bustling, recovering Liberia with a free press and democratically elected leaders.

Yet somehow mass rape survived the end of the war; it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement. So the security guard at Jackie’s school, a man in his 50s, took the little girl to the beach where, she said, he stripped her and raped her. Finally, he ran off as she lay bleeding and sobbing on the sand.

Mass rape and torture of women and girls also continues in the Congo:

Nothing I have heard or seen compares with what is going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where corporate greed, fueled by capitalist consumption, and the rape of women have merged into a single nightmare. Femicide, the systematic and planned destruction of the female population, is being used as a tactic of war to clear villages, pillage mines and destroy the fabric of Congolese society.

In 12 years, there have been 6 million dead men and women in Congo and 1.4 million people displaced. Hundreds and thousands of women and girls have been raped and tortured. Babies as young as 6 months, women as old as 80, their insides torn apart. What I witnessed in Congo has shattered and changed me forever. I will never be the same. None of us should ever be the same.

A number of bloggers are coordinating our efforts to call attention to this horrible situation and mobilize activism and financial support to end systematic mass rape in Africa. Here are some things you can do:

(1) Visit the blogs of Isis the Scientist, Tara Smith’s Aetiology, and Sheril Kirshenbaum’s The Intersection. They will be donating their revenues for page views to Doctors Without Borders, and they will be posting on an ongoing basis about this situation.

(2) Donate to Doctors Without Borders, who are leading the effort to provide medical treatment to women and girls who have been grievously harmed.

(3) Write to your representatives and senators in Congress to urge them to use the diplomatic power of the United States to end this horrible situation. You can use this directory to obtain the contact information for your representative and senators by typing in your zip code.

(4) You can blog about this yourself to call attention to our efforts.

Original post here.

Doctors Without Borders

Congressional Directory

I almost feel like this shouldn't be necessary, but it seems like all the news Americans ever hear out of Africa is about victimhood and horror. So a couple of bits of news to remind us all that, there are many troubles in Africa, but that she is diverse and vibrant and evolving, like everywhere else, despite the difficult history, and present, of the continent:

S. Africa's 'Breakthrough' Succession Case

Ruling in Favor of Woman in Chieftaincy Dispute Seen as Victory Over Patriarchal Tribal Traditions

Togo institutes truth and reconciliation commission

Burundi senators reject bill criminalizing homosexuality
The government of Burundi's latest move comes in the context of considerable hostility to homosexuality in the East African region. Two-thirds of African nations maintain criminal penalties for consensual same-sex behaviour.

Tributes to a fallen giant
'He was a giant by any measure. He was genuinely committed to the liberation of our continent. Maybe after all, it was no coincidence he passed away on Africa's liberation day! Tajudeen kept the universal torch of Pan-Africanism alive.'

To be certain, not all good news -- but a more diverse look at news and an Africa on the ground that is similar and different to our world in ways we don't commonly appreciate. A last sample: although there is the "good news" of a program of activism against gender violence in South Africa, a variety of other stories of struggle, success, survival, hope and despair is available on Pambazuka News, "A weekly forum for social justice news in Africa".

(a) Take action on the persecution, rape and torture of women in Africa.
(b) Find your own source of news about Africa that gives a holistic picture, positive and negative, everyday life and quotidian problems as well as the grand divides and challenges. It's harder than it seems! Report back, and show your work.