|One girl or woman is raped every minute in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As troubling as that statistic may be, many “Congo experts” will blithely tell you that rape is not the biggest challenge facing the DRC.|
Our technology consumption is fueling the current fighting in the DRC, as rebel and government armies work as mafias fighting for control of mines and the mineral trade. With little transparency in the mining and banking industries, there is no way for the Congolese people to hold their government accountable for the business deals it is making. While this elite network of Congolese businessmen and politicians are reaping the benefits, those in the lowest echelons of society are paying the price.
As foreign mining companies, mercenaries, foreign banks - who operate in a manner they would never be allowed to on their own countries’ soil - and the elite Congolese are raping the country of its mineral wealth, military men and civilians are raping girls, women, and now men.
Originally, rape was used by rebel and military groups as a scare tactic to control and destroy local communities. Rape was used as a power tactic to rule by fear and to insult local men by showing they could not protect their women. This “war on women” has led to what we dubbed “the battle of the sexes.” When we would ask men and women the same questions separately, they both blamed the other for the current state of the DRC’s society.
The most shocking thing I found: rape - of girls, young women, mothers, and grandmothers - has moved from “rape as a tool of war” to “rape as a way of life” in the DRC. The rape culture of war has seeped into the general population. Attackers are raping with impunity. Thanks to a climate of corruption, fostered by a government that works to stay in power and not to serve its population, unpaid civil servants - like the police and mayors - are easily bribed. They rationalize that they have to feed their families too.
The people truly paying the price of the ongoing fighting in the DRC are the ones you have never heard from, the ones living in isolated communities continually surrounded by government and rebel factions. The United Nations and aid organizations do not have the ability or mandate to protect these vulnerable communities. Struggling to survive, girls and women are at risk of attack every day as they go about their daily activities of working in their fields, getting water, and collecting firewood.
The Truth Told Project was formed to help these girls and women share their stories with the rest of the world. They are everyday girls and women, like your friends at school, your coworkers, and neighbors. They hold the same hopes and dreams for their future and their lives as you and I hold.
My vision is that The Truth Told Project will serve as a catalyst for change, allowing survivors a chance at justice by allowing them to share their story with the world and making the human connection needed to garner the support of the international community. Please visit the project site now - www.TheTruthTold.com and share it with your personal network.
Thank you for your support,
The TruthTold Project