Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy International Women's Day!

This International Women's Day, I would like to shine an international spotlight on the women and girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and who have been victimized or survived sexual violence all over the world. Today I honor all the activists and women in the DRC - and around the world - who have been fighting for freedom and peace for years. I stand with them as they fight to end the economic war for mineral resources that is being fought on their bodies.

The women and girls of the DRC represent the passion, dedication and courage of the women for which International Women's Day was created. I celebrate the recent victories for women in the DRC: the public "Breaking The Silence" events where women in Goma and Bukavu for the first time stood up in front of their communities and government officials to speak out against their rapes and the impact of violence on their lives; and the historic march through the streets of Bukavu where women took back their lives and their voices to denounce the rampant violence against women in their country.

I am also reminded however of the work ahead: busloads of women arrive daily at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu; girls as young as 8 months old and the women as old as 80 who are raped, sometimes beyond repair; doctors and nurses who spend every day caring for and healing women who have literally been torn apart.

Today I ask you to remember and pray for ending the years of oppression and violence of the women and girls of the DRC.

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