In places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), rape and violence against women are, sadly, an everyday occurrence. With an estimated 200,000 women and girls raped during the past 12 years, it's no surprise that the United Nations considers eastern DRC the "rape capital" of the world.
CARE has been working on the ground for years in the DRC to address the causes and consequences of violence against women and girls.
While much remains to be done, I am encouraged that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton included a stop in the war-torn city of Goma, DRC, during her recent trip to Africa to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of women and girls that are raped and abused there every year.
In the DRC, Secretary Clinton met with victims of sexual violence and encouraged the Congolese government as well as the U.N. peacekeeping force there to bring an end to the sexual violence that is being used as a tool of war. Clinton stated, "The U.S. condemns these attacks and those who commit them as they are guilty of crimes against humanity." And CARE was there when she announced a major increase in U.S. assistance to provide desperately needed medical, economic and legal services to survivors.
Please, take a moment to thank Secretary Clinton for standing with the thousands of women worldwide affected by sexual violence each year, and encourage her to continue to make preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence a foreign policy priority for the United States.
The physical and emotional harm that survivors of sexual violence 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. Survivors continue to experience physical injuries, psychological trauma and social stigma long after the conflict has ended. Children conceived from rape are often rejected or face discrimination.
But there is hope. Secretary Clinton's visit signals a change - that rape is n o t a "women's issue," but a human rights violation that should occupy a prioritized place in U.S. foreign policy.
Please, take a moment to contact Secretary Clinton and let her know that you appreciate her attention to this critical issue, and that you want the U.S. to take a leadership role in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence around the world.
Thank you for helping the thousands of women affected daily by violence.Sincerely,
Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE