Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Silence Is the Enemy.

I've never experienced sexual assault. That makes me lucky. Many woman aren't as lucky. In particular, women in many war torn areas live with the reality that rape is used to as a weapon in war and even when the fighting is done the rape culture still persists.

Ignoring this is not an option, which is why Sheril Kirshenbaum writes the following:

Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.

In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months. Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under. We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls. Together we can do more. Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.

The movement began a couple weeks ago after I was feeling particularly outraged after reading Kristof’s terrific NYTimes piece. I wondered aloud to Isis how we might draw attention to the mass rape taking place across the globe. Very soon we began coordinating a blogospheric awareness campaign to say 1) this is happening 2) it’s completely monstrous, and 3) we want change. But acknowledgment isn’t enough–people have to be motivated to care and act. We want folks thinking about these girls beyond a single morning they read a few coordinated posts.

If you haven't already read her post go do so NOW. And while you're at it browse through the following blogs who are donating their June profits (based on site hits) to Doctors Without Borders: