Friday, 31 October 2008

Praying for Congo

I've been reading this article in the New York Times on the terrible prevalence of rape in Congo which United Nations officials have called the worst sexual violence in the world.
At the same time as being very moved by the stories of women who have survived rape "speaking out" and breaking the silence about the terrible burden they live with, I am also saddened and profoundly disturbed at our seeming helplessness to transform the poverty and culture of violence all people in Congo are living with.
Next week the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle invites churches around the world to pray for Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. As we pray for the survivors of war, genocide and desperate violence in these countries - especially as that violent cycle again takes hold in Congo - I shall especially pray for a transformation in attitudes and behaviour towards women. I shall also give thanks for people like Eve Ensler, the American playwright who wrote “The Vagina Monologues,”. She went to Congo last month to work with rape victims and the article reports her as saying:

“I have spent the past 10 years of my life in the rape mines of the world,” she said. “But I have never seen anything like this.”

She calls it “femicide,” a systematic campaign to destroy women.