Rwandan and Congolese rebels reportedly gang-raped between 150 and 200 women and young boys during a raid of eastern villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this month, humanitarian aids in the region say.
Rebels allegedly entered the town of Ruvungi on July 30 and proceeded to pillage the town and systematically rape its occupants for several days. "Most women were raped by two to six men at a time, in front of their children and their families," Will F. Cragin, coordinator for the International Medical Corps' program in the Ruvungi region, told the New York Times. During the attack, rebels blocked a road that connects the town to UN peacekeeping troops who are stationed 18 miles away, which prevented villagers from seeking help, Bloomberg reports.
While international and local health workers have treated 179 women with rape related trauma since the attack, the number of victims could be much higher as many terrified villagers remain in hiding.
Earlier this month the United Nations condemned mass rape as a weapon of war. Margot Wallstrom, the UN's Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told reporters that using rape as a tool of war is no more acceptable nor inevitable than committing mass murder.
At least 8,300 rapes were reported in the Congo last year, according to the Associated Press. It is believed that many more rapes go unreported. While insurgents are thought to be responsible for most of the attacks, soldiers in the national army have also been implicated in sexual abuse, according to United Press International.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited eastern Congo in 2009 to denounce rape as a weapon of war. Clinton said, "I will be pressing very hard for not just assistance to help those who are being abused and mistreated, in particular the women who are turned into weapons of war through the rape they experience, but also looking for ways to try to end this conflict." War has ravaged eastern Congo since 1998.
Media Resources: New York Times 8/23/10; Bloomberg 8/23/10; Feminist Newswire 8/13/10, 8/10/09; Associated Press 8/23/10; United Press International 8/24/10
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell as out of order.
Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of two heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .
7/24/2015 Katherine Spillar Urges Cleveland to Dramatically Increase Hiring of Women Police to Mitigate Police Violence - In a well-received speech at the City Club of Cleveland today, Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation urged Cleveland city officials to dramatically increase the hiring of women police officers as a way to decrease police brutality incidents.
Following a number of high profile police killings in Cleveland of African Americans, and an eight-month investigation by the US Attorney's office of the Northern District of Ohio, the City of Cleveland has now entered into a Consent Decree that requires numerous reforms in how the city oversees and investigates police operations, including training in use of force.
"Among the most important reforms mandated by the consent decree - and the most easily overlooked - are the changes the Cleveland Division of Police must make in its recruitment and hiring practices,
said Spillar. . . .