For over 15 years, rape has been used in D.R Congo as the main war tool, humiliating hundred thousands of women, and destroying Congolese society. Congo has been named rape capital of the world. It is heartbreaking to belong to such a country, but it is possible to make a difference by refusing to be called so and changing the women’s history. The difference must be possible if the epidemic of Violence is brought at the forefront of the public and if JUSTICE becomes one of the priorities.
If I try to describe the D.R Congo in general and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular, my eyes will only shed with tears. When I see women’s life and reflect upon violence done on them and the poverty that impacts their lives, I just say that Congolese women’s life is a paradox of life. The incongruity is seen between the lush, green mountains and fertile black earth, and the starvation of families who can’t go to their lands to collect crops and to plant the others. The unspeakable horrors of gang and mass rape, killings, assault and battery, torture, kidnappings and other retrograde practices in homes, schools, work places, churches in which women are promised heaven, etc, and massacre of women and peasant population that have characterized the country, make me feel revolted to call on survivors of violence and the men who love them to go to the street to demand justice because of IMPUNITY which heightens everything.
If I try to list the resources of the Congo which is blessed with precious Gold, Diamond, Coltan, Cobalt, Copper, Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten and others and see how women, who are always duty-bound to care for their families everyday are so painfully poor that “food today means none tomorrow” and who carry huge bags of cassava and are paid less than 1 dollar per day, I am so revolted because of this economic injustice and plundering of resources which does not profit the Congolese.
If I see how the violation done on women has reigned for years, I wonder where the people and institutions entitled to justice are and why the epidemic has not yet been eradicated. This evidence is a call to women and to the men who love them to take to the streets and demand justice. It is a call to a mass action to say NO MORE injustice and to order that perpetrators must be held accountable and that transitional justice and reparations should be done to survivors of violence.
Women’s stories have been trivialized, ignored, put into doubt, and rape has been regarded in the Congo as a women’s issue. One Billion Rising for Justice in the Congo will raise the awareness of Congolese about rape as a global issue and about the escalation of our efforts to put an end to violence done on women.
In the Congo, women who have survived the some of the worse tragic events need a transitional justice. Our fight during One Billion Rising for Justice will also invest into transitional justice so as to redress legacies of human rights abuses. We shall demand truth commissions and reparations for survivors of gender violence in order to trigger institutional reforms or the practice of the law. We need to build social trust, repair a fractured justice system that only the un-free know and that continues to annihilate the development of women. With transitional justice will allow women to address past human rights abuses and mass atrocities done on them and will link them toward a more peaceful, certain, just, and democratic future.
We shall go to schools and colleges to raise the awareness of students about the escalation of rape culture on campuses and in secondary schools, and about the practice of sexually transmitted grades by schoolteachers and University professors in the country. We shall debate about injustice in churches, in markets, and in many other places where women have no rights to raise their voices. We shall go to the media- women and men- to discuss the issue of injustice as it is done on women and find out some remedial solutions to re-shape it. Spots, banners and billboards will be used and will carry the message on One Billion Rising for Justice to appeal to the public and to increase the understanding of the campaign.
Vaginas have suffered a lot, they are fed up with the violation of their greatest resource, and they are fed up with the neglect of the world and the power players about the issue of violence and injustice. Demanding justice is putting the women on their way back to their rights and promoting gender equity and re-shaping their construction as citizens. Restoring justice in the Congo is a process. The mass actions such as marches and debates about the issue of Justice and breaking the male code will render the fight possible until the violence stops.
We call the International Community to consider that the reparations of survivors should take precedence over everything as women‘s dignity must be restored. We also call them to assume a responsibility to hold all perpetrators of violence accountable.
RISE, RELEASE AND DANCE
VDAY- D.R CONGO