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ACTION ALERT: Stop Rape as Weapon in Congo War


November 21, 2007
CARE

The New York Times and The Washington Post recently reported disturbing evidence of the increasing "normalcy" of rape in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tell Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act now.

https://my.care.org/campaign/iwdaction

Hundreds of women are brutally raped, beaten and killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) every day. On October 31, Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (S.2279) — legislation that will increase protection and services for women and girls facing gender based violence, and will direct more U.S. funding to violence prevention abroad.

The IVAWA will increase U.S. leadership in responding to the violence suffered by women and girls in the DRC and around the world. Please urge your representatives to support the IVAWA today.

• Click here to tell Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act now.

• THE LETTER
As your constituent and a supporter of CARE, I am writing to strongly urge you to support the International Violence Against Women Act (S.2279).

You may have heard of the "epidemic of rape" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Every day, women are kidnapped, raped, beaten and even killed by armed men. By passing the IVAWA, we will take a significant step toward addressing this type of violence in the DRC and other crisis regions around the world.

The IVAWA represents US commitment to eliminating violence against women globally. It will integrate policies that help prevent and reduce gender-based violence into existing U.S. foreign assistance and development programs.

I encourage you to learn more about this issue and support legislation to help stop global violence against women. The current situation in the DRC proves that the time to pass this legislation is now.

Thank you very much for your time and attention, and please support any and all efforts to eliminate violence against women worldwide.


• BACKGROUND
According to the United Nations, reported cases of rape in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have risen 60 percent since August. The epidemic of rape and sexual violence is a humanitarian catastrophe in this war-torn country where more than 4 million people have died during years of conflict. We must take action now.

The good news is that on October 31, Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (S.2279), legislation that will significantly increase U.S. commitment to ending gender-based violence in the DRC and around the world.

We at CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, have been working with local staff to eliminate the violence in the DRC for several years. Please help by contacting Congress today and telling them to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) immediately.

The urgency of the crisis cannot be overstated: "In the case of eastern DRC, the rates of these violations have risen to catastrophic levels and their increasing regularity and brutality over time is well documented," Kevin Fitzcharles, CARE's country director in Uganda, said in recent testimony to Congress. "Armed groups in eastern Congo are effectively using sexual violence as a weapon of war and destruction, inflicting grievous physical, psychological and social harm on women, children and entire communities."

The physical and emotional harm that these women and girls face is staggering. While the perpetrators of these horrific crimes simply move on to their next victims, violated women and girls rarely find the medical and psychological care they so desperately need. CARE staff has been on the ground in the DRC working to address the causes and consequences of violence against women and girls; however, much remains to be done to address this scourge.

Passing the IVAWA would be a major step toward ending the violence endured by Congolese women - and all violence against women. Please don't wait a minute more to write Congress about this crucial legislation.
Thank you.

Sincerely,
Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

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