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Darfur: Stop Violence Against Women
Women are being targeted as victims of systematic rape in Darfur. Don’t let it continue. Join Amnesty International’s campaign to send in peacekeepers to stop the violence.
16 Days of Activism: Nov 25-Dec 10
Be part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Click above to find an event in your community, or for the toolkit to organize your own.
STATISTICS:
In 1993, the Security Council created the Yugoslav Tribunal to prosecute crimes of sexual violence. In the governing statute of the Tribunal rape constitutes a crime against humanity.
In June 1996, the first indictment which dealt exclusively with sexual violence was issued by the Yugoslav Tribunal in relation to events that took place in the municipality of Foca, to the south east of Sarajevo.
Esperance
Zainab Salbi
IraqGALLERYCONVERSATION
Esperance was walking to market with her mother just after dawn one day in 2003 when two armed soldiers appeared and forced them into a stand of brush off the road. There, in an unremarkable setting they passed almost daily, they found a group of 50 others encircled by more armed militia members.

One of the soldiers went over to her. “Look at me,” he told her.

“I refused to look at him,” she says. “He started beating me. I started crying. He said to me, ‘Why are you crying? I can kill you. And, you would not be the first for me to kill.’”

He took his bandana and wrapped it around her head, staking his claim to her, and left to join the others. Esperance, 17, removed the bandana, but when the soldier came back, he recognized her anyway. He ordered her to carry his heavy equipment, and they set off down the road. Her mother, left behind, could only watch.

They walked for hours. Esperance tried to run off, but the soldier caught her again. Finally, some six miles farther, they reached a military encampment in the forest, where he escorted her to his small hut and raped her. The next morning, she found that 19 other young women had also been taken there. They were assembled at dawn, as if in a class, and were instructed in the ways their lives would change. Every day, they would be awakened at six in the morning to wash, cook, and clean for their captors.

“We worked hard,” she recalls. “It was to your advantage if you were working, you got some rest. If you were not working, you were being raped.”

Several months later, pregnant and critically ill, she was sent away to die by the soldiers. Some villagers found her and took her to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where she received proper medical care. Somewhat restored, she gave birth to a baby boy and named him Daniel. Like many rape victims, she loves the child she knows is an innocent victim. Yet his face is a constant reminder of the soldier who enslaved her. With facial features different from her own background, Daniel, like many children born to raped mothers during this war, is treated as an outcast by many in his community.

Esperance has become the youngest member of a women’s group that studies subjects that matter to them, ranging from reproductive health and entrepreneurial skills to simply sharing painful experiences with other women. She says she has found most compelling the classes about nutrition and the group’s discussions about protesting war. “Why should women leave responsibility for war and peace to men,” she came to wonder. “How could women afford to remain silent when it was men who fought the wars and women who suffer their atrocities?”


This story appeared in "The Other Side of War - Women's Stories of Survival and Hope" by Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International (http://www.womenforwomen.org/index.htm) published by the National Geographic Society (c) 2006 Women for Women International. Photograph by Sylvia Plachy.
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hey wajdi is that you? email me at saher2k@hotmail.com
your old body saher
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