10,000 More Villagers Displaced

Even while talking publicly about the need for progressing towards “disciplined democracy,” the Burma Army and their henchmen continue the campaign against the ethnic nationalities–10,000  Shan (click here) have been displaced since July 27. and a buildup against the Karen in the Three Pagoda Pass area (click here) is also in process.  On the public side,  Than Shwe cuts the unearned sentence of the illegally held Aung San Suu Kyi from three years to 18 months (still keeping her out of the way for next year’s rigged elections), and the UN makes noises about the unfairness of it all. Asean delivers mild rebukes. On the private side, gang rape, murder, forced displacement, ethnic cleansing  and other crimes against humanity continue unabated.

How many deaths does it take til we know that too many people have died?  (Bob Dylan)

For more info from the Shan Women’s Action Network, click here.

How do you bring about regime change if the regime has no interest in changing?

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Silence Is the Enemy (Rape)

Nikolas Kristof writes about ending the silence associated with talking about sexual violence.   A report this week from Free Burma Rangers breaks the silence on the recent gang rape of a 12 year old girl in Shan State, Burma–part of the continuing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Burma Army. 

Rape is one of the oldest weapons used to terrorize women and children and whole communities.  A google search on “rape, why women stay silent” turned up this article about women in DR Congo.  

Last year, the UN recognized rape as a weapon of war-something victims have recognized for centuries (see article from Human Rights Watch).  It’s almost exactly a year later….has anything changed? More words from the UN-good words, but, maybe I haven’t looked hard enough to find it, but have any of the regimes using this weapon been made accountable for their actions/inactions?  Are they being prosecuted?  Is it being stopped?  How do we make it stop being OK to rape?

Rape as A Weapon of War (video)

Responding to rape in Congo….. this five minute video clip shows how women are helping each other.  Another video clip by CNN, tells more.  

Heal Africa is working to help rebuild lives and communities.  Harper McConnell, US Development Director of Heal Africa, has written a three part series on the response to rape in DR Congo.  (click here)

Article on response to rape in Chin area of Burma…(click here)

“Not Rape” (a tough read)

For any man, woman, husband, wife,  teenager, sister, parent, brother, teacher, pastor, friend….please click on the link here to the instructive but tough read on what the writer calls “Not Rape“.  Unfortunately, this experience is too common, too untouchable, and too often, those who experience it are blamed for causing it and have nowhere to go.  It’s not written as guy bashing, but as someone’s story, and worth acknowledging.  It happens to people of faith as well as those who claim no faith.  It’s a human thing gone wrong.  The gift of sexuality misused….abuse of power….

Facts and Figures on Violence Against Women

Today is the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.” For a minute, let’s imagine a world where at least one out of three women and girls were not subject to being “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetimes, usually by someone they know”.  Violence against women is reported by the UN’s Say No to Violence Against Women” campaign to be “perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today“.  (The following paragraphs are taken from their report)

Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. For women aged 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause of death and disability [2]. In a 1994 study based on World Bank data about ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria [3]…. 

Domestic and intimate partner violence includes physical and sexual attacks against women in the home, within the family or within an intimate relationship. Women are more at risk of experiencing violence in intimate relationships than anywhere else.

In no country in the world are women safe from this type of violence. Out of ten counties surveyed in a 2005 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50 percent of women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Tanzania reported having been subjected to physical or sexual violence by intimate partners, with figures reaching staggering 71 percent in rural Ethiopia. Only in one country (Japan) did less than 20 percent of women report incidents of domestic violence [7]. An earlier WHO study puts the number of women physically abused by their partners or ex-partners at 30 percent in the United Kingdom, and 22 percent in the United States [8].

Based on several surveys from around the world, half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. Women are killed by people they know and die from gun violence, beatings and burns, among numerous other forms of abuse [10]. A study conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, reported that 13 percent of deaths of women of reproductive age were homicides, of which 60 percent were committed by the victims’ partners [11]. According to a UNIFEM report on violence against women in Afghanistan, out of 1,327 incidents of violence against women collected between January 2003 and June 2005, 36 women had been killed — in 16 cases (44.4 percent) by their intimate partners [12].

According to the Secretary-General’s In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, by 2006 89 States had some form of legislative prohibition on domestic violence, including 60 States with specific domestic violence laws, and a growing number of countries had instituted national plans of action to end violence against women…

Limited availability of services, stigma and fear prevent women from seeking assistance and redress. This has been confirmed by a study published by the WHO in 2005: on the basis of data collected from 24,000 women in 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted NGOs, shelters or the police for help [13].”

 

Crisis in Congo-link to a letter to Senators

A google search of “crisis in Congo” returned 2,120,000 hits.  It’s not like the world doesn’t know there’s a problem, a big problem.  Harper McConnell, of Heal Africa, explained that while many international organizations have pulled out of Congo, they are still working in the midst of the conflict.  Their web site tells of the ongoing life changing and life saving work they do.  

Several  ACTION STEPS that we can take are listed on their web site, along with the following explanation: “Through much of the media, the unrest is presented as a tribal conflict, but it is a conflict rooted in control for resources. Resources such as coltan (in latops and cell phones), diamonds, gold, tantalum, minerals which drive the global economy. It is the people of DR Congo who are suffering for the extraction of these minerals which are sold to multinational companies. Write your senator using this letter to tell them to support Senate Bill 3058 and enforce multinationals to follow strict extraction and purchasing guidelines. ”  (There’s also a link to a letter to write to companies using coltan to check their sources, a link to a petition to print out and gather signatures on, and a donation link).  

The video linked here shows another report done by the Pulitzer Center on Coltan and the Congo:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OWj1ZGn4uM