While many of my fellow classmates produced compelling audio interviews, I felt mine lacked spark, or an interesting storyline. I attempted several interviews within Eugene, however I felt frustrated because my topic had a very international focus that lacked a lot of relevancy to Eugene. I would have liked more practice with interviewing with audio, and researching good interview subjects, although I recognize the term is short and we don’t have ample time to do everything.
I liked to photo project because it brought a more artistic aspect to story telling, but also urged us to not just take nice photos but make them interesting and make them tell a story, which is a lot harder than I imagined. Also composition and the right lighting are more critical than I imagined, and the bi-polar Eugene weather wasn’t always on my side but my pictures turned out for the most part.
The audio slide show was easier in terms of using the technology. I felt I was fairly well versed with Final cut pro by then, although I am tech retarded so I wasn’t completely comfortable. The hard part was putting the photos and audio together, and making them relevant with one another. I shot my photos first, and did my interview second, which did not leave me a whole lot of time to take additional photos to enhance my subject’s story.
Last was the video project, and probably my favorite because I didn’t pull out my hair looking for an appropriate interview subject. I also got have a first hand look at the mechanics of the organ, and organ playing which was interesting. I noticed my hand-held shots were slightly shaky, although i really didn’t have anything to put my gorilla pod on. I also learned that moving before filming 20 seconds of a steady shot is BAD. Now I know better for next time.
Battling Sexual Violence and Gender Based Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo
In the past decade of internal conflict, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been host to some of the worst acts of sexual violence in the world. Soldiers from neighboring countries, as well as soldiers of their own, have used rape and sexual mutilation as cheap and terrifying weapons of war. As a result, communities within the country are being torn apart, and resources and aid for victims of sexual assault grow scarce. While efforts of humanitarian workers and UN campaigns have brought needed attention to the problem, thousands of rapes are still occurring everyday, with little resources for victim’s recovery. While the US and the UN have recently increased their aid for victims medically as well as socially and economically, they need to increase their efforts to end impunity and punish perpetrators, and also educate the society on gender dynamics and sexual violence.
Despite mass organized acts of sexual violence, women and communities have remained largely silent about the violence until it was revealed after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia that the Bosnian’s had created rape detention centers as a method of ethnic cleansing.(source 6)This atrocity pushed the UN to acknowledge the seriousness of sexual violence in conflict. Since the early 1990’s, the subject has gained increased attention. But acts of mass and systematic sexual violence have not eased. Sexual slavery was an enormous problem during the Rwandan genocide, and now places like Darfur and the Congo are playing host to these atrocities. In the Congo’s case, women and children are facing attacks from numerous predators, including soldiers from their own government. The Congo has faced attacks from both neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. The Congo has been increasing their efforts to stop sexual violence with military protection and sexual violence education programs, but such methods have proven ineffective because soldiers from their own army are responsible for raping and pillaging villages in the Congo.
Though the tragedies occurring in the Congo are all too numerous, humanitarian and international efforts have given more attention to rape victims in this conflict then ever before in history. In 1999 the Panzi hospital was built, and soon became the medical haven for rape victims, thanks to the efforts of OBGYN Dr. Mukwege (source 8). Additionally, General Ban-Ki Moon (source 5) of the UN started a campaign for women’s violence in conflict after witnessing the conditions in the Congo. As recently as September, of 2009 Hillary Clinton put forth $18 million dollars through USAID (source 3)(source 1), as a resolution condemning sexual violence in war zones. The ongoing problem sexual violence in conflict faces is the (source 10) misogyny that gives perpetrators the idea that women are their property and can be used as a “weapon” of war. (source 1)They have funded many programs to reintegrate women back into society after treated for their sexual trauma. Yet repeat offenses by sexual perpetrators cause numerous ongoing problems such as scarce medical aid, severe psychological trauma for women (especially if they have been attacked more than once) and economic instability for areas regions affected. These are just a few examples of the consequences of sexual violence (source 8).
What US (source 2)and UN powers should do is work with the International Criminal Court to call for impunity and accountability to perpetrators, implement affective education programs on sexual violence and general sex education, as well as continuing to increase funding for medical, psychological, economic, and legal aid to victims. The most important, and probably to most difficult, task at hand is to educate general society about sexual violence. According to a study done by “Refugee Survey Quarterly,” (source 4) funded by UNICEF, transforming social attitudes says to stop rape “the unequal status of women and children, especially girls, must be changed.” However, the study also recognizes that gender inequality and discrimination is deeply rooted in Congolese society and that social transformation is a long term endeavor, but certainly a necessary endeavor. In addition the survey states women groups and men’s groups help create safe communities where victims can speak out about their sexual violence, and, as the survey states, “serve as bedrock for changing social attitudes about sexual violence.”
The other equally important change that needs to be addressed is impunity and accountability for perpetrators. Along with a starkly contrasting gender balance, the ICC and the Congolese government have not done much to make sexual perpetrators accountable for their actions, thus violence continues to happen. Although sexual violence has been given more focus and attention internationally since the conflict in Yugoslavia, humanitarian agencies and the UN need to define their role with the ICC, and focus on effective monitoring, reporting, and protection programs for victims so they can have their cases heard.(source 4) Often what happens with these cases is that women are too afraid to report the crime, there are not enough expertise to deal with sensitive issues and age groups, and witness protection is not sufficient. In addition national law reform should conform to international human rights standards.
Some, however, may argue that the US and the UN implementing sexual violence education programs has already proven to be a failure. (source 7) But programs driven through the Congolese army to break these social believes have been ineffective, some soldiers even making light of the programs. In addition critics may argue where all of the funding for these programs will come, and why it is all being funded to one country, and not others with equal epidemics such as Darfur. While money has and will always be an issue, social transformation and progression is a necessity to humanity. Stopping rape and sexual violence in the Congo will take ample time, but not standing for such brutal violence on a mass scale would serve as a catalyst for more perpetrators to commit violence. Also, Taking serious steps to implement national law, enforce accountability, and improve and strengthen data collecting will create a general awareness for the public of Congo that sexual violence is not ok, and is a severe and punishable crime.
It is important to acknowledge that many of the strategies suggested to end sexual violence will not see results immediately. And if the US and UN do create more legal and educational focuses, they will need to expand it to surrounding areas, because the Congo isn’t the only area facing sexual violence, and impunity for perpetrators. What needs to happen is for major world power, the ICC, and the UN to focus their plan and give the issue the international significance it needs. The process will most likely take many years, and the changes will not come immediately or obviously. Decreasing the number of rapes is one of the first steps, as well as charging the perpetrators in their own nation or the ICC. Other actions will follow suit, but must not be ignored, otherwise rape and violence could spark again. If a cohesive and active plan can be made (source 6), the issue will not only receive the priority it needs but the ability to make change in a country devastated and torn by sexual violence.
The above link is an institutional source about Hilary Clinton’s recent plan to support the victims of rape in the Congo. According the US department of the state, she has put forth $18 million towards the cause, the majority of which will go towards the victims of rape. They will be provided with health care, economic aid, legal aid, and help with social reintegration back into society. $ 7 million will be going to the North and South Kivu regions which have been hit hardest by brutal attacks and rape. Clinton makes a point to equally delegate money between physical rehabilitation and care, and areas that have been given less attention such as counseling, economic assistance and legal aid. As is a problem in many rape cases, women fear seeking legal aid for many reasons, so an additional $2 million will go towards training female officers to deal with victims of rape. This will also help create a safe environment for women to report crime, and for accurate and affective documentation of these crimes. The source is institutional therefore attempting to sway an audience towards this cause. However, the source nicely details Clinton’s plans, how she is delegating her money among different sectors of the cause.
This link is also an institutional source. It is a press release from Senator Barbara Boxer praising Hilary Clinton’s efforts in the Congo as well as provided a detailed letter of recommendations of how she can help stop the epidemic. The suggestions were compiled from a meeting held by several subcommittees of which are under the direction of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What the suggestions outline that is significant is a call for accountability and ending impunity, a critical part of ending sexual violence. The US Senate outlines very clear suggestions for the action the US should be taking in the Congo, and why. While Hilary Clinton provides much aid towards “truth and justice mechanisms” she and powerful world figures have yet to tackle stopping the violence from its source. Boxer also calls on Clinton to work closely with the DRC government, in order to create a more focused and effective plan to end violence.
Considering the vast number of persons there were to influence this letter it is hard to say where the funding is coming from and how it influences the source. But it is clear however Boxer is a Senator and a Democrat, which influences the source and her recommendations for Clinton.
This link is another institutional source. I have found over my research that news sources can only provide so many details about what is being done about the situation in the Congo. The site describes two programs it is funding, and with what partnering organizations. However institutional sources also only tell so much about their work in the Congo. The first section details a nearly $ 2 million dollar program with the IRC; the IRC will be working to bring survivor programs to inidividuals, families, and communities. The IRC in turn will also work with local NGO’s to enhance survivor programs, and to promote protection for victims and potential victims. The program elaborates a bit on Clinton’s statements, and says it will provide numerous forms of assistance to victims such as leadership opportunities, specialized health programs, etc. The source remains somewhat ambiguous however, and does not provide much detail as to how, when, and where these programs will be implemented. This source also states that most of its direction comes from the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.
4) Dahrendorf, Nicola, Shifman, Pamela. “Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post Conflict: A Need for More Focused Action.” Refugee Survey Quarterly. 2004; 23:7-19.
This source is an academic source, sponsored by UNICEF. The source discusses the need for a more focused effort to combat what it calls “gender based violence” and highlights the violence in the DRC. It also highlights the humanitarian efforts and responses, in particular the responses of UNICEF. There is also a brief discussion in regards to impunity and accountability in regards to gender based violence. What is significant about the source is that it argues prevention and accountability are just as if not more important than just providing aid to the growing number of victims. What they define as “prevention” is engaging both men and women to end sexual violence through social transformation. The article states this is the most critical part of ending violence in conflict, and the most difficult. But government organizations tend to overlook social programs as aid. But the article states that humanitarian and government need to equally delegate resources between medical, social and legal programs. One flaw with the article is it does not discuss government involvement extensively. The article takes examples mostly from UNICEF; it does not highlight the importance of bringing together world power and the UN to create a cohesive plan for accountability. It also does not suggest stress the importance of making clear legal definitions for sexual violence crimes, specifically in areas of conflict and post conflict.
I provided this link once again because I think it drives home the core effort from the large humanitarian and UN supported efforts. General Ban-Ki Moon’s efforts have served as a catalyst for multiple organizations involvement, as well as high profile celebrities and government figures. While the link is institutional and slightly sensationalized (i.e. the pictures of Charlize Theron with Dr. Mukwege) the core efforts to raise awareness remain effective and successful, while still accessible for community members to get involved with. The campaign has five distinct goals: to adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, to adopt and implement multi-sect oral national action plans, strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls, increase public awareness and social mobilization, and finally address sexual violence in conflict. Moon states that the cause has not yet require the priority it needs to enable significant change. Moon stresses the importance of States making political commitments and backing that with resources and aid to victims. Moon’s statements reflect many of the suggestions made in Boxer’s letter to Clinton, and the article done by “Refugee Survey Quarterly.”
This link is an institutional link, but is lengthy enough to be an academic source. What the source provides is a detailed overview of heinous cases of mass sexual violence during conflict over the course of history. It also discusses what international efforts have or have not been made to bring perpetrators to justice, to give aid to victims, and to change and prevent future atrocities. What is extremely important about this source is that it provides a detailed history of this topic and that it is an ongoing and extremely complex problem to solve. It addresses that sexual is no new conflict, but history has been known to let cases of mass rape and slavery in conflict slide. For example, the Japanese forced women into rape detention center during WWII to serve the army as “comfort women.” The article uses historical context to analyze why such atrocities were allowed to happen, and how the world has progressed since. In the case of Japan, the discussion of sexual violence was compounded because the topic was rarely openly discussed. In some societies today sexual issues are much more openly discussed, while others have yet to progress socially on that issue.
This link is provided by a journalistic source the Washington Times. This source provides a perspective from the “perpetrator” or the potential perpetrator(s). The article brings to light the failing efforts of the Congolese army to harness their military powers and alter the mentality that rape and gang rape is something to be socially accepted. The problem that is the article presents is that without changing social values, rape and degradation of women will remain acceptable. When the Congo’s own army is a major cause of the epidemic, reintegration into society for women is that much harder. The article states that the National Congolese army is responsible for up to 20 percent of all rapes in the country. With staggering numbers like these, skeptics choose to look away, or claim there is no hope for such a war torn and depressed region. The article brings light to the flaws the educational theory; bringing social change to a society so far behind in terms of gender dynamics is a difficult and lengthy process. The article also makes an interesting point of the perpetrators psyche; perpetrators use sexual violence least often for the pleasure, and most often for the power and male bonding. The Congolese society has lived the notion that misogyny makes men the powerful sex, and women the weaker sex. This difficult problem that aid groups must tackle because it is so deeply ingrained in society’s mindset.
This is a compelling video done by CNN, that features an interview of Dr. Mukwege of the Panzi hospital in the Bukavu region. Mukwege and his staff at the Panzi hospital have brought a safe haven for rape victims in the Congo. They assist any and every woman (in general thousands of cases per year) with her medical and psychological needs. They assist her in reintegrating back into the community. Mukwege brings to riveting points to the interview. The first is what he recognizes as “systematic rape” due mostly to military operations aiming to terrorize entire communities. He says he can tell where a woman is from by the type of injury that has been inflicted on her. Another point Mukwege makes is that often he deals with women who have been re-victimized. He says it is more difficult to help them psychologically because the trauma is too much; a woman twice attacked, he says, feels they are just tools to be used by men. Mukwege however has hope for the future, and comment that Hilary Clinton’s September 2009 visit has shone a much needed light on the situation.
This link is provided by the International Criminal Court. It gives a brief overview of major offenders committing crimes against humanity in the DRC. What I highlighted was two cases soon to be tried at the ICC; they are being charged for numerous war offenses, which significantly include rape and sexual slavery. As evident in a previous link, “Women 2000” sexual violence has been disregarded as a problem, and is just beginning to gain recognition and justice as feminism and equal rights become more socially acceptable.
Looking at the cases closer, there has been a failure to bring justice to other offenders, omitting their sexual violence charges, or trying criminals for sexual slavery but not rape. It also brings to question how perpetrators on a country level will receive punishment for their wrong doings. The ICC cannot handle mass cases of rape on their own, and there is no accountability for who they are or where. So how will the Congo deal with individual perpetrators? Legal accountability for sexual violence has been an ongoing issue that has yet to receive the attention and action needed. However the cases provided in the link have made significant steps in regards to the Congo by making rape and sexual slavery part of the charges against those being tried.
Abagail Leeder is one of my interview sources. She works at the Women’s Center at the University of Oregon, and mostly works with the SWAT team, “Sexual Wellness and Advocacy Team.” What I discussed with her was the problem of sexual violence prevention and social transformation. Though Leeder is mostly an expert on sexual violence prevention on university campuses, she has also dealt with sexual violence victims from different backgrounds, and has found that misogyny and wrongful ideas about women’s sexuality as property are two of the biggest problems facing sexual violence prevention. While working at a women’s prison, she found that the majority of women serving time there had been victims of sexual assault, and that most women had severe ongoing trauma because of it. What Leeder aims to do is educate the young, and still impressionable, that women can and should say no if they feel compelled, and men should respect a woman as his equal, not his property. Leeder says, “Young men often view a woman’s sexuality as theirs to have. Society implements that in them.” Reversing that idea is Leeder’s primary focus at the UO, and hopes one day, like Dr. Mukwege, sexual violence can be stopped.
This is entirely unrelated to my topic in the Congo. The subject in this video interested me because he was an accomplished local organ player and the organ he is playing on is an original wind pipe organ. In addition I love the piece he plays, “Toccata and Fugue in d minor” by Bach, because in short I am a massive nerd. Enjoy!
My question is: should the US and the UN increase its efforts to stop sexual violence in the Congo?
The subject of sexual violence in the Congo has increasingly gained awareness worldwide. Hilary Clinton announced as of 2009 that she is funding $18 million to aid the victims of sexual assault in the Congo. However, even with increased coverage of the situation, the violence has not stopped. Thousands of women, children and men alike are being raped, mutilated and killed every month. The DRC’s government army is contributing to the rape epidemic, along with Hutu militia fleeing from Rwanda and rebel forces. As medical resources grow scarcer and violence increases, the victims of this tragedy will continue to grow in number unless foreign aid and awareness grows.
The link provided above if from “The Los Angeles Sentinel,” the self-proclaiming number one African American newspaper. This is obviously a journalistic source, geared mostly towards the interest of African American communities. Because it is a smaller publication than say the NYT it is hard to say where the source of funding comes from. The article is, more or less, an opinion article on sexual violence in the DRC. The writer, Firpo W Carr, says that while it is easy to blame colonialist influences for the ongoing violence, “We” are the ones pulling the triggers; “We” as in the natives committing the violence.
This brief summation of news events courtesy of NPR sheds light to the efforts of two remarkable individuals Eve Ensler and Dr. Mukwege. The reason I provided this was because NPR provides links to audio stories that give the situation a story. Many other sources provide opinion but never bring faces or stories to the situation. Their remarkable efforts and heartbreaking stories are effective in that listeners empathize and want to know more. There are hundreds of articles out there giving statistics on the situation, but fewer on the efforts of Ensler and Mukwege.
The link above is provided by PeaceWomen, an organization or “league” for the peace and freedom on. The excerpt actually comes from another organization Human Rights Watch. They are short stories, told by anonymous victims of sexual violence in the Congo. The stories are horrifying and vivid. The source is a nonprofit source, geared towards women’s rights and peace. The article is important in that it, again, brings faces and stories to thousands of anonymous victims, of whom have not gotten justice from their perpetrators.
The above link is an institutional source about Hilary Clinton’s recent plan to support the victims of rape in the Congo. According the US department of the state, she has put forth $18 million towards the cause, the majority of which will go towards the victims of rape. They will be provided with health care, economic aid, legal aid, and help with social reintegration back into society. An additional $2 million will go towards training female officers to deal with victims of rape. The source is institutional therefore attempting to sway an audience towards this cause. However, the source nicely details Clinton’s plans, how she is delegating her money among different sectors of the cause.
This link is also an institutional source. It is a press release from Senator Barbara Boxer praising Hilary Clinton’s efforts in the Congo as well as provided a detailed letter of recommendations of how she can help stop the epidemic. The suggestions were compiled from a meeting held by several subcommittees of which are under the direction of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Considering the vast number of persons there were to influence this letter it is hard to say where the funding is coming from and how it influences the source. But it is clear however Boxer is a Senator and a Democrat, which influences the source and her recommendations for Clinton.
This link is another institutional source. I have found over my research that news sources can only provide so many details about what is being done about the situation in the Congo. However institutional sources also only tell so much about their work in the Congo. The link, provided by USAID gives details about a couple of their humanitarian assistance programs in the Congo, how much funding they are being given, and what partner institutions they are working with. This source also states that most of its direction comes from the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.
This source is an academic source, sponsored by UNICEF. The source discusses the need for a more focused effort to combat what it calls “gender based violence” and highlights the violence in the DRC. It also highlights the humanitarian efforts and responses, in particular the responses of UNICEF. There is also a brief discussion in regards to impunity and accountability in regards to gender based violence. What is significant about the source is that it argues prevention and accountability are just as if not more important than just providing aid to the growing number of victims.
I provided this link once again because I think it drives home the core effort from the large humanitarian and UN supported efforts. General Ban-Ki Moon’s efforts have served as a catalyst for multiple organizations involvement, as well as high profile celebrities and government figures. While the link is institutional and slightly sensationalized (i.e. the pictures of Charlize Theron with Dr. Mukwege) the core efforts to raise awareness remain effective and successful, while still accessible for community members to get involved with.
The section that is highlighted under the link is what is important to the source. While I could have provided a link to the International Criminal Court for direct information, I liked how this site both highlighted and scrutinized the cases from the Congo brought to court. For example in the case against Germain Katanga, the court decided to prosecute him against sexual slavery, but was limited to that. This also highlights the fact the ICC has not effectively prosecuted the perpetrators of sexual violence, nor does it know how to.
This link is an institutional link, but is lengthy enough to be an academic source. What the source provides is a detailed overview of heinous cases of mass sexual violence during conflict over the course of history. It also discusses what international efforts have or have not been made to bring perpetrators to justice, to give aid to victims, and to change and prevent future atrocities. What is extremely important about this source is that it provides a detailed history of this topic and that it is an ongoing and extremely complex problem to solve.
The first visual I posted is a video from the New York Times archive. This video, reported by Jeffrey Gettleman, is a journalistic overview of the rape epidemic in the DRC. The video starts at the Panzi hospital, which is renowned for its aid to rape and assault victims. The video serves as a 2 minute overview of an eleven year epidemic. It covers the basics: the interview(s), the facts and numbers, the necessary visual shots, and the compelling ending. What the frame provides elicits our empathy to a degree. But the video is too short to give it the attention it needs. However, the focus on the Panzi hospital is effective. It serves as a great humanitarian effort, yet also in dire need of additional help. According to the video, almost 10 new women come in a day reporting sexual assault. Though the video is not the most compelling, it does serve as a good overview of an important topic, and of the work being done at the Panzi hospital.
The second visual image is a news photo from reuters.com. Though it is journalistic, it also has an artistic element to it. The photo is of Thomas Lubanga, a leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, talking to villagers in the east DRC village of Bunia. Lubanga trained child soldiers to kill, rape and pillage in the Bunia region. At first look, Lunbanga looks like he is preaching to the choir, so to speak. However, the villagers in the background are laughing at him, some are covering their eyes or mouths as if he were an object of mockery. For whatever reason they are laughing, the image of Lubanga in contrast to the villagers provides compelling journalistic imagery. To me, it shows the demise of a once powerful leader; the villagers no longer fear him or take him seriously. In 2003 Lubanga was convicted of war crimes in the International Crimes Court.