The atrocities in Guinea are just the tip of the iceberg. In many countries, an often-unseen cycle of sexual violence against women lurks beneath the surface. According to the US State Department, 36 women and girls are raped every day in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the world's shame.
Political Crisis in Guinea: Women Raped in Conakry France 24 Report
(October 10, 2009) One image shows a naked woman lying in the mud before a man in military fatigues. Another captures the terrified expression of a woman as her clothes are ripped off by a soldier wearing a red beret.
These are the brutal scenes of rape and sexual abuse as soldiers stormed a peaceful protest inside a stadium in the West African country of Guinea last week. Human rights groups report 150 people murdered and countless women sexually assaulted.
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Unfortunately the atrocities in Guinea are just the tip of the iceberg. In many countries, an often-unseen mountain supporting the cycle of sexual violence against women lurks beneath the surface. It is built of boys who watch their fathers beat their mothers, communities that devalue girls, and world leaders who react with indignation when rape happens, but do little to prevent it.
According to the U.S. State Department, 36 women and girls are raped every day in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the world's shame.
What happened in Guinea is a visible example of the violence and abuse that threatens women all over the world. In Guinea, these rapes and killings took place in a public stadium. In other countries where CARE works like India, Nepal and Uganda sexual violence haunts women in hidden places like homes and schools.
To stop this vicious cycle, we must empower women and girls and work with communities to address harmful traditional practices that fuel violence.
We also are calling on the international community to implement key measures outlined in the recently adopted U.N. Resolution 1888 that can protect women and girls from sexual violence. Please join me by raising your voice on this important issue.
On behalf of CARE, I am writing to you to welcome the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1888 but also call for its swift implementation on behalf of women and girls trapped in wars not of their own making.
Recent reports of 150 people killed and countless women raped during a peaceful protest in the West African country of Guinea serve as a stark reminder of a larger epidemic of gender-based violence plaguing women and girls around the world a global crisis which you have repeatedly condemned and committed to ending.
The assaults occurred the same week that you unanimously passed Resolution 1888 to counter conflict-related sexual violence. While this resolution is a step forward, immediate action on key provisions of Resolution 1888 is desperately needed, namely:
1. The immediate appointment of a Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary- General who can help hold government forces and other armed groups accountable for stopping repeated gender-based violence and providing adequate and appropriate medical, legal and other assistance to survivors of rape and sexual assault (ref. OP 4).
2. The rapid recruitment and deployment of Women Protection Officers who can immediately contribute to improving levels of protection and delivery of services for survivors (ref. OP 12).
3. Implementation of a field-based "gap analysis" within three months to identify existing weaknesses in the multi-sectoral response and prioritize problems to correct (ref. OP 26).
Time is critical - let's not wait another minute to break the vicious cycle of sexual violence haunting women, girls and their communities worldwide.
Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH is President and CEO of CARE
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