Weekly Wrap Up: April 10, 2011

Two Calls for Attention on Congo

Say No UNiTE, one of the UN Bodies addressing violence against women, released a video this week of Eve Ensler speaking at a Jewish Community Center in San Francisco about one of her latest projects, City of Joy. The City of Joy is a community in the Democratic Republic of Congo that aims to heal and train women who have been the victims of mass rape. You can read more on the amazing project here.

In the video below, Ms. Ensler not only tells how the atrocities she witnessed in Congo changed her but also explains how women will be the change Congo needs. “When you see something that aweful you know that if you don’t stand up and do something in the face of it not only do you allow that to happen there but you allow the possibility for that to happen everywhere.” Check it out:

Also this week, NPR interviewed Jason Stearns, author of the new book, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. When asked why the international community interfered in Libya but fails to take the same action in Congo, Stearns says that the answer is two-fold. First, he believes it is partly because the conflict is so complicated that people would rather not even try. “We care less about things that are more complex,” he says.  The suffering seems to be anonymous “with an equally anonymous perpetrator.” There are over 30 ethnic groups involved in the clashes and they are all abusive.

Second, he says that we need to demand it. When the American people demand action from Congress and the White House, such as was done for Darfur, the government responds.

“The only way the U.S. is going to get involved is if people in the U.S. see this as a humanitarian or moral issue in which we need to get involved. But it’s very difficult to get people to care about complex suffering that’s so far away.” Read the NPR article here or check out the book here.

Biden Takes a Stand

Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech at the University of New Hampshire this week addressing sexual assault on college campuses. Speaking on behalf of the Department of Education, Biden announced a new Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign that seeks to inform universities and K-12 institutions of their obligations to address sexual assault under Title IX. You can read the full story here.

The Budget Battle

A government shutdown was avoided this week by a matter of minutes, and President Obama is claiming that no controversial social issues were a part of the budget deal that prevented what seemed to be inevitable. This isn’t completely true. The Democrats did curb the Republicans’ attempts to cut millions in spending that supports women’s health groups like Planned Parenthood. Thanks for that.

However, the deal does ban the District of Columbia from spending taxpayer money on abortions. Whichever side of the fence you fall on regarding abortion, this is wrong on many levels. One, D.C. should be allowed to allocate its taxpayer money where it wants. Two, if this isn’t a controversial social issue, I don’t know what is. Check out this Washington Post article for a more thorough breakdown.

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