Tag Archives: sexual violence

Grandma Cao

I watched The Apology tonight on PBS. It is a harrowing story of sexual violence and of official denial and the refusal of people to acknowledge and address past wrongs. It is a story endurance and perserverance in the face of such violence–physical, social, and psychological.

The documentary “follows three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Seventy years after their imprisonment, the survivors give their first-hand accounts of the truth for the record, seeking apology and the hope that this horrific chapter of history not be forgotten.”

I stand in awe of the grandmothers who tell their stories. Their courage and grace amazes me. I grieve for their experiences and for all the women who did not survive this violation. I am grateful for their willingness to share their stories and to filmaker Tiffany Hsiung and those who have captured and preserved their stories.

Grandma Cao, one of the women featured in the documentary, died on October 22.

Tiffany Hsiung has written a reflection on Grandma Cao, the grandmothers, and the realities of telling stories of sexual abuse and violence. The contemporary parallels are clear, painful, and instructive.

Here are some quotes:

It has been almost a decade since I first met Grandma Cao, and some other survivors of World War II. History might refer to them as “comfort women,” a euphemism given by the Japanese Imperial Army. But to me, they are “the grandmothers” and what started out as a journey to uncover these atrocities, soon turned into an exploration of one’s perseverance.

The grandmothers I interviewed told me that back in the old days — and even today — people will say things like, “Well, if it really happened then why didn’t you say something sooner?” Or, “The only reason you are saying this is because you want money and attention.” Sadly, this rhetoric is still often heard today as a defense when a woman publicly discloses her experience with sexual violence.

For many survivors, the decision to speak out is a daunting one. The thought of negative repercussions can be worse than burying it deep inside of you forever.

For victims of sexual violence, the biggest fear about speaking out is not being believed and, thereby, being re-victimized. Society has perpetuated a culture of shame that has resulted in decades, or even lifetimes, of silence for survivors of sexual violence. Something has to change.

Watch The Apology. Read Tiffany Hsiung’s article. Believe survivors. Break the culture of shame. Challenge rape culture. “Something has to change.”

See you along the Trail.

 

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Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation

From the United Nations:

toiletday2014“Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation” is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day, which seeks to put a spotlight on the threat of sexual violence that women and girls face due to the loss of privacy as well as the inequalities that are present in usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene.

See you along the Trail.

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Get in the swim … or the walk

congoswim_flyer_8.5_x_11_jpeg_medium350Last summer, I took part in the CongoSwim, I did not swim. I walked. On a warm, sunny Louisville day, I walked 22,000 steps. 1,000 steps for each mile across Lake Tahoe where the organizers swam.
Participants and donors made it possible for five women and youth-led groups in the DR Congo to receive grants. The Who We Support page contains information about the work the groups are doing for lasting peace and a future free of violence against women and children.
A CongoSwim will take place again this summer. I will take part. I will walk again. I have not determined how far or where or when, but I will walk.
I invite you to show your support this summer by doing at least one of the following:
  1. Register a summer activity – CongoSwim has expanded beyond swimming and participants are even dedicating their summer-long fitness goals and BBQs with friends
  2. Click DONATE to make a tax-deductible donation
  3. Encourage a child to participate by sharing the FOR KIDS page
  4. Join the August 15 Lake Tahoe Relay (youngest swimmer is 8 and oldest is over 70!)
  5. Sign-up for the August 23 CongoSwim Lake Merritt Walk
  6. Like CongoSwim on Facebook

Get in the swim … or the walk … or support the effort in some other way.

See you along the Trail.

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Today I wear orange and I walk

photo-4I wear orange today to call for an end to violence against women and girls.

I will walk 22,000 steps today to support the efforts of CongoSwim to bring an end to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I invite you to make a financial gift to support this effort.

See you along the Trail.

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Walking to end violence against women and girls

I have posted before about my upcoming participation in CongoSwim, a unique and inspiring collective action which will culminate on August 25th to send a WAVE of LOVE to women and youth groups working for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  With apologies to my father (he taught me to swim), I will not swim. But I will walk – 1,000 steps for each mile across Lake Tahoe for a total of 22,000 steps – and I will pray.

You can support me by making a tax-deductible donation in my name.

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGMost of us directly benefit daily from the minerals mined in Congo as they are essential to the functioning of our laptops, phones, cars and many other products.  CongoSwim is one way we can support work to end the suffering millions of families are enduring in the international scramble for Congo’s minerals.  CongoSwim takes place on an Orange Day, a call to action from the United Nations campaign to end violence against women and girls.  The specific focus for August 25 is sexual violence in conflict.

If the fundraising effort goes well, up to sixty different Congolese community groups doing vital work, often with extremely limited resources, will be able to receive a grant from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo.  The benefiting groups focus on initiatives to end violence against women and girls, human rights education and advocacy, support to women run businesses, increased girls’ education, youth leadership development and services for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Some of the funds raised also will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s mission of saving lives and building champions-in the pool and in life.

One of the main requests from Congolese youth and women leaders is that we urge our government to demonstrate the political will to support peace and sustainable development in Congo.  Millions of people have died, endured tremendous violence and/or been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Congo. UNHCR reported 13,000 people arriving in one day alone to a single refugee camp after attacks in July.  CongoSwim has developed a simple Advocacy Action for peace.

In support of my participation, please

  • Donate generously.  Every amount matters!  Be sure to specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  You may also mail a check payable to Friends of the Congo with CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Every amount matters!  Mail to:
    Friends of the Congo-CongoSwim
    1629 K St., NW Suite 300
    Washington, DC 20006
  • Send a quick, yet critical message to Secretary of State Kerry
  • Ask at least 3 other people you know to donate and advocate through CongoSwim

I am proud take part in CongoSwim because it provides us all the opportunity to address the violation of women’s rights.  I am honored to take part with an amazing community, the youngest is age 3 and the oldest is 92.  Participants include Coco Ramazani, a Congolese survivor of extreme violence who now lives in the US and is speaking out with CongoSwim.

Thank you in advance for supporting this effort.

See you along the Trail.

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End violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGWomen face violence in many forms and in many places – domestic violence in the home, sexual abuse of girls in schools, sexual harassment at work, structural violence that demeans and limits and excludes, rape by partners or strangers, economic violence that values and rewards men at higher levels than women, assault in refugee camps or focused violence, physical and sexual, as a tactic of war.

Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo know violence well. Conflict and war has ripped parts of the country since 1996. During the conflict, hundreds of thousands of women and children in the eastern DRC have endured sexual violence.  In some instances, the sexual violence is a byproduct of the war. At the same time, the violation of women and girls is systematically and strategically used as a weapon.

Such an atrocity, in the DRC or in other places, is an affront to decency and an abuse of human rights. Around the world people organize and work to end violence against women.

Here’s a way you can help end sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Support the CongoSwim on August 25.

Organized by the Congo Team of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in California, CongoSwim provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in terms of sexual violence against women and girls. August 25 is an Orange Day – a day to witness and work for an end to violence against women and girls. CongoSwim participants are encouraged to raise funds for the Congolese grassroots groups receiving grants from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo. Some of the funds raised will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, to prevent children from drowning in the US. Swimming is not the only way to take part.

Presbyterians are participating in several ways. Zephyr Point Conference Center will offer free lodging for the participants who swim Lake Tahoe. White Plains Presbyterian Church will mark the day with a slip and slide on their lawn. I will engage in prayer and walk to support this effort.

Learn more and register your participation.

Make a donation.

Find your own way to work for an end to violence against women and girls! It is past time – well past time.

See you along the Trail.

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Get in the swim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGHelp address sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sign up now to participate in CongoSwim on August 25. Organized by the Congo Team of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in California, CongoSwim provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in terms of sexual violence against women and girls. August 25 is an Orange Day – a day to witness and work for an end to violence against women and girls.

CongoSwim participants are encouraged to raise funds for Congolese grassroots groups receiving grants from Global Fund for Women and Friends of the Congo. A portion of the funds raised will also benefit the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, to prevent children from drowning in the US.

Swimming is not the only way to participate. I am going to pray and walk on August 25 to support this effort. When you donate, you could do so in my name.

Learn more and register now.

See you along the Trail.

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