Focus on sexual violence during Clinton's Congo visit
by Malavika Balachandran
Among the most horrible of atrocities committed against women worldwide is the sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Caught between warring rebel groups, hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, tortured, sold into sex slavery, and murdered. The countless tales of violence are sickening: soldiers have sliced off women's breasts or fired guns into women's vaginas. Sexual violence is one cause of the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in addition to increasing the rate of unsafe abortions. There has also been a recent spike in the numbers of men raped by other men.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting the Congo on her tour of Africa, where she is pushing for an end to the conflict in the region and putting an emphasis on the issue of sexual violence. Tomorrow, she will speak with the President and Congolese officials on ending the conflict and the crimes committed against civilians. She will also speak with victims of sexual violence and the organizations that are working to help them.
It's crucial for Clinton to emphasize sexual violence during these talks. Poor women have very little political power, and without advocacy, their basic human rights will continue to be ignored. Despite the potential danger in the region, Clinton is very determined to address these issues. Only through the persistence of powerful individuals can we hope for change.