The first complete report on the rape and abuse of women during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo concludes that all sides commit atrocities against women as a common military tactic intended to subdue the civilian population.
The report, entitled Women’s Rights Violations During the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was compiled by two researchers at the local organization, Association for the Rebirth of Human Rights in Congo, according to Women’s Enews. The report indicates that tens of thousands of Congolese women have been subjected to rape, torture, and humiliation during the country’s four-year war. Local physician, Dr. Denis Mukaweye told the BBC, “We’ve had cases of serious wounds to the women’s genitals and anus. Sometimes after the actual rape, women have been shot in the vagina, or they are cut with knives.” Resistance is often met with additional brutality, including being shot in the arms, legs, and/or genitals. Women have even been sliced to pieces in front of family members, according to the BBC.
A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in June 2002 entitled The War Within the War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, states that despite the prevalence of rape as a war strategy, soldiers continue unpunished. HRW confirms that soldiers and combatants rape women and girls—ranging from five to 85-years old—as part of their larger campaign to terrorize communities and impose their control. Even though those guilty of committing acts of sexual violence have been successfully tried and imprisoned via International Tribunals for Bosnia and Rwanda, rape in Congo remains a crime that goes unchecked.
In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to adopt the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). Article 7 of the Rome Statute presents clear language defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Under Article 7, the rape and torture of women and girls in the Congo would qualify as a crime against humanity; therefore, violators could be tried before the ICC.
Media Resources: Women's ENews 11/07/02; BBC 11/06/02; HRW report summary 6/2002, Feminist Daily News Wire 5/17/01
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .