The Mind And Heart Of Lotika Sarkar, Legal Radical, Friend, Feminist


March 8, 2013, Usha Ramanathan

LOTIKA-SARKARUSHA RAMANATHAN via Women’s Feature Service

We have to marvel at how the world has changed since r*** was a four letter word, and young Lotika Sarkar (1923-2013), the first woman lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, shocked the department by teaching rape to her students.

This is what happens when you let women into hallowed institutions of learning:  They don’t understand that, even when they are allowed to be seen, they may not be heard about the obscene. This was our LS-given, early version of the Vagina Monologues, without the theatre. Shift to the present: I suspect some will tell us that the battle to take rape to the classroom is far from over; except, thanks to LS, it is prudery that is on the back foot now.

When the letter protesting the ‘Mathura’ judgment was written, it constituted many firsts. It was the first time that an ‘open letter’ was written to the Chief Justice of India – braving its contempt powers. A first for law teachers – Upendra Baxi, Vasudha Dhagamwar,  Raghunath Kelkar and LS – questioning the legitimacy of the court’s decisions. The first time the cover of silence shrouding custodial rape was torn asunder by the written word. It is one of the contradictions of those times that, in the wake of the ‘Mathura’ letter, the law was changed to make it a crime to reveal the identity of a victim of rape. Yet, ‘Mathura’ remains ‘Mathura’, while Tukaram and Ganpat haunt the peripheries of feminist consciousness. Such is the stuff of which iconisation is made.

A while later, LS was to advocate caution in shifting the burden of proof: A matter that continues to need explaining, and demands debate – especially with the state having used terrorism as a causative agent for extraordinary laws!

In a haze of cigarette smoke, in a room in Delhi’s Centre for Women’s Development Studies, dwarfed by the personalities of the two women in it, sits a third listening to a narrative unfold. “When they set up the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI), no one in government expected the report that we produced,” chuckles Vina Mazumdar. LS smiles wryly. No one in the committee had anticipated the work, travel and discovery either. Soon, though, they had formed teams, and were coursing in all directions, meeting women of all ilk and hues, life experiences and dispositions all over the country.

Before they knew it, the women they met unalterably radicalised them. The Status of Women in India Report is testimony to what they learnt from the women who spoke to them.

It was on reservation in legislative bodies that LS and Vinadi dissented. You see, we had not gone looking for how the political system should be changed for women. But wherever we went, women would raise the problem of political participation. The report had to reflect what they were saying. The Note of Dissent was to resurface years later with the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Thinking back, this was a casual conversation while taking time off for a smoke. If this is the stuff of which feminist gossip is made, it is no wonder that the women’s movement is now so articulate about how the law needs to change, and where it needs more thought; a far cry from a government that seems clueless that neither patriarchy nor paternalism can provide answers to the women’s question.

Feminism, as feminists know, has its share of mirth, even when it is serious business. The serious business of feminism was on display when LS was co-petitioner in the public interest petition on the Agra Protective Home. ‘Protective home’. We know what that means. The conditions were abominable, the rules were like those of a punitive institution, and codes of civilised conduct seemed to stop at the doorstep.

In 1994, when she was over 70, it fell to LS to pursue the case in the Supreme Court. She was daunted, but determined. What was at stake? An illustration: Now that the ‘Home’ was under the court’s scrutiny, it had directed the District Judge to file a monthly report on the ‘Home’. In this document that was accessible to anyone who cared to look at court papers was the record for every woman in the ‘Home’, tying up her identity with her HIV status. On August 30, 1994, the court directed that all persons testing positive be segregated! On October 10, 1994, armed with a doctor’s opinion, LS stood her ground with a reluctant court to change its earlier order. Fighting prejudice is an everyday task for the feminist, right? It tired her out, and she did the rest of the case with Muralidhar – Murali to LS – by her side, but she stayed the course.

There was no fuss about LS. Just meticulous preparation and grounded work. Ask Gobind, Khem Singh, Dayalji in the Indian Law Institute library, and they would tell you that “Madam worked very hard.” And, they would say, in voices tinged with affection and respect that they were happy to take the books to her, but, no, she will go to the racks and get the books down herself. Mutual respect, no hierarchy, unacceptance of nonsense, and a deep sense of fairness. No
pre-judgment, no prejudice; but excellent judgment.

Students who are now teachers speak of being ticked off by her, and then treated to a cup of coffee in her room. There was never any malice, jealous self-interest or meanness about her. Sure, there were those she did not like or trust – but isn’t that what judgment is about? There is just one person about whom I have heard her say ‘he should be punished’, and that after extraordinary provocation. Need I say more? With her friends, it was affection, jollity, respect and a free exchange of thought, opinion and … well, lunch.

Have you had payesh with mini-oranges? What about lauki in milk with ginger and an indefinable something? Or palak in a million combinations? Ah, that tomato chutney – we have to find another name for it that will do it justice. The three-tiered dabba was not hers once she reached ILI, CWDS, perhaps the Law Faculty too? Her most delectable concoctions were made from – guess what? – leftovers. The thing is, it was true. A visiting friend may leave some mushrooms in a form that does little to add pleasure to the palate; overnight, it
would become a creation whose recipe must be written; except, it had just one ingredient – leftovers!

Politics and pleasure were on the same canvas. Who among us remembers LS, laid up after a hip surgery, spending the evening before 2006 was to arrive, with friends, wine and chocolate cake, discussing a freshly minted Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act which, she angsted, she needed to understand.

When Anthony Lester writes, about LS, that “she changed my life ……. But for Monu, I would not be a human rights lawyer”, he is expressing a sentiment oft-voiced. At the release of LS’s Festchrift (1999), I am told, the hall was full to overflowing. As the proceedings drew to a close, as indeed they must, there was a spontaneous standing ovation. I didn’t hear it then, because I wasn’t
there. But, after four years of sharing a home and being witness to her inexhaustible charm, cheer, comradeliness, compassion, concern, quiet – very quiet – dignity, trust and fairness, we know why the applause will never stop.

 

#1billionrising this Valentine’s Day against abuse #Delhi #Vaw


ByNaziya Alvi Rahman, TNN | Feb 11, 2013, 12.56 AM IST

In the backdrop of Nirbhaya gang rape, campaign’s Delhi-wing, called ‘Delhi Rising’ is already out on its feet mobilizing people for the event that will see flash mobs and mass dance protests at PVR Saket at 11 am and Parliament Street at 5pm.

NEW DELHI: ‘Strike, Dance, Rise’, that’s what one billion people from 199 countries, including India, will do on Valentine’s Day under the campaign – One Billion Rising. The campaign was started by playwright and activist Eve Ensler (known for her play The Vagina Monologues) against all forms of “sexual abuse”. The word “billion”, say the organizers, refers to the one billion women who are survivors of abuse.

In the backdrop of Nirbhaya gang rape, campaign’s Delhi-wing, called ‘Delhi Rising’ is already out on its feet mobilizing people for the event that will see flash mobs and mass dance protests at PVR Saket at 11 am and Parliament Street at 5pm. At noon the group will occupy spaces in different parts of Delhi and express them through dance.

The Delhi wing has been set up by a group of young women professionals who were part of the protests after Nirbhaya gang rape. The girls, however, were inspired to join Ensler’s movement after they heard her talking at Miranda House college in January 2013.

“While we were inspired by Ensler, she said the outrage and protest that followed in Delhi after the gang rape left her inspired. She said she did not expect such a huge movement and unity in Delhi against gender-based violence,” said Sakshi Bhalla (25) a development worker and a dancer, who is a core member of the group. They are now being helped by noted NGOs like Sangat and Jagori to mobilize people for the February 14 event.

“While the NGO’s are taking care of offline mobilizing, we are creating awareness via social media sites… A Facebook page giving details of the movement was created on January 9.

We also uploaded ‘Delhi Rising -I and II’ videos on YouTube,” said Shruti Singh (25), a board game designer and another core member of the movement.

The team also came up with an anthem condemning acts of violence against women. The song was sung by Bollywood singers Shilpa Rao and Benny Dayal. “We’re asking everyone in Delhi to join the global strike, reclaim the streets, create a space for dialogue and engage. We’re asking everyone not to forget and continue to intervene in their local area of influence to bring about change,” Singh said.

The video DR-I, which they claim has already got viewership running into a few thousands, share experiences of young Delhi women who have faced all kinds of abuse at home and in public.

“One of the girls talks about how she was molested in a DTC bus but she did not raise voice as being teased is considered acceptable in Delhi. However, now we want to raise our voice against even a minor form of tease,” Singh added.

The second video shows male perspective. “It gives details of how in a patriarchal system we expect men to be stronger than women. It also has experiences of men who after Nirbhaya incident sense an outrage in all women around them and feel ashamed of their so called ‘masculinity’. Men in our group will stand up to redefine the concept of masculinity,” said Sudeep Pagedar (24) a consultant with a government institute.

 

#MUMBAI- One billion Rising for freedom from fear #1billionrising #reasontorise #vaw #menrise


meeta

By Kamayani Bali Mahabal, 13TH fEB 2013

tOMMORROW is   Februray  14  what does it stand stand for? Valentine day, right ?, no there is  another connotation attached to it, this year globallY it will be the  Violence free- day. The movement is aptly named ‘One Billion  Rising’, and it has been started by feminist writer, Eve Ensler, who
wrote and performed ‘The Vagina Monologues‘, 15 years ago.
The figure of one billion has been worked out on the basis of  available statistics that one out of three women on this earth will
experience violence in her lifetime, which means a staggering one  billion women on this planet would be impacted by violence. “Rise and  dance” is the vociferous message of One Billion Rising – a global campaign demanding the end of violence against women.On February 14, there will be 13, 000 organizations in  192 countries around the world  holding noisy, energetic events encouraging “activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, women and men” to “strike, dance and rise”. In > India many cities and  groups are part of OBR both from urban and  rural areas

Women are not a homogenous group, The majority of the world’s poorest > people are women, who are further affected by discrimination if they  belong to minority groups. Women suffer disproportionately from  discriminatory labour practices and are frequently forced into  underground or informal sectors. Women who are discriminated against  on the basis of both gender and caste  are frequently subject to  violence. In armed conflicts, women are sometimes explicitly targeted  because of their ethnic background. Rape and other forms of violence  against women have been used as weapons of war in conflicts throughout history. Violence against women has been a major trope of the women’s > movement in India, right from the incidents of rape against women like  Mathura and Rameeza Bee in the 1970s. Over the last few months, especially after the Delhi Gang Rape , One Billion Rising campaign, we  have  revisited this theme , coming together to recommend to Justice  verma committee,. In  Mumbai  what t is unique about this is event  is  being ‘ most diverse and inclusive”, we have women representing variosy  marginalized sections of our society- the disabled, dalit, sexual > minorities, muslims ,participating to say  no to violence, and to also give a message that women with different needs have different rights

In  Mumbai , several woman organizations, youth groups and Bollywood  celebrities have come together to show  Mumbai’s ‘ solidarity towards  a violence-free city. The campaign one billion rising- Freedom from  fear, on 14th February will be the beginning of
These one billion rising- Freedom from fear is calling  all Mumbaikars  to join the mass event, which has rainbow hues of music, dance, poetry, and Rap.  Farhan Akhtar will be singing  and  reciting his  poem penned after the Delhi Gang Rape incident. Meeta
Vashisht will do an excerpt from the renowned performance of ‘ lal  dedh,   Young rappers including women rapper will showcase their talent on the  issue. and Swanmg group will perfomr. Maa ni main nahi darna .  Rahul Bose  would recite Man prayer.

Swaang cultural group will for the first time perform live tehir protest song maa ni meri which they wrote after delhi Gang Rape

The program  will end with the  flash dance Indian National anthem of ‘ break the  chains” adapted in Hindi. and we will dance on it

NOT TO MISS COME JOIN US ENTRY FREE

Youc an find video here

and the mP3 youc an find here

https://soundcloud.com/kractivist/one-billion-rising-indian

 In a patriarchal society like ours, the demands for a  non-discriminatory mindset and a gender sensitive society are not  going to be achieved in day or a month or even a year. It needs  consistent and self-directed actions by all of us without delaying or deferring the responsibility on each other, and one billion rising Freedom from fear is one such attempt towards a continuous process of changing mind sets . Let us make it a great event highlighting women’s rights and equality in the city, all are invited and entry is free

CALLING MUMBAI JOIN US

BANDRA AMPHITHEATRE, BANDSTAND, NEAR TAJ LANDSEND  5.30PM ONWARDS

for mroe information contact kamayani 9820749204

PL JOIN US ON FACEBOOK- https://www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingMumbai

PL RSVP EVENT-https://www.facebook.com/events/158240337660310/

 

#India- global ‘feminist tsunami’ is here #1billionrising #Vaw #reasontorise


Does Our Sassiness Upset You?

Stirred by Eve Ensler, women across India, many defying the men who would confine them, are part of a global ‘feminist tsunami’, writes Revati Laul
Revati Laul

January 17, 2013, Issue 4 Volume 10

Rediscovering freedom Students protest against the Delhi gangrape

Rediscovering freedom Students protest against the Delhi gangrape Photo: Dijeshwar Singh

AT A PACKED auditorium in New Delhi last week, Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues got onto the stage. “I’m tired of data porn.” It was time to move conversations about women out of the space of victimhood and into the space of celebration. “I am an emotional creature,” she said, reading from another of her plays. “Don’t tell me not to cry. / To calm it down / Not to be so extreme / To be reasonable. / I am an emotional creature. / It’s how the Earth got made. / How the wind continues to pollinate. / You don’t tell the Atlantic Ocean to behave.”

The call to celebrate being a woman has, since July last year, become an international movement called One Billion Rising. One in every three women in the world is raped or beaten each year, which adds up to a billion. Ensler reasoned, if women across the world rise as a collective, patriarchy can, and will, be smashed. Women and quite a few men across the world have been paying attention and 182 countries have signed up. From the Philippines to Cancun, Congo and the Caribbean. Jane Fonda to Robert Redford, Alice Walker and the Dalai Lama. To celebrate womanhood, vaginahood as potent, sexy and cerebral and the source of all creation. Of pleasure. And orgasms.

Now, with the spontaneous rising in India following the Delhi gangrape, India has become the movement’s main fulcrum. The call is to strike, dance, rise and reclaim Valentine’s Day as Vagina-Day or Victory-Day to combat violence against women.

In India, and indeed across all of South Asia, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign is being spearheaded by the feisty feminist Kamla Bhasin, who says it will be the unleashing of a feminist tsunami. She described the event with characteristic wit and candour as she sat with one leg set rigidly in a cast from a recent accident in Kabul. “This cast nearly reaches my vagina and is having its own dialogue with it,” she remarked, knowing full well how that would go down. “As someone in the last century said, you can’t be dead serious all the time. You have to lighten up and have a good laugh.” Which is why, apart from her books on Exploring Masculinity and several on gender education, she’s written songs that are now being used by groups across the country to dance as they prepare for V-Day. One song — a rewrite of a feudal folk song from Punjab — sends a terse message to all those who think of women as the second sex: “The weaker sex that we women are, can’t take no heavy housework too far; not alone can households run, being weaker, meeker second rung.” (Balley balley bhai aurat toh kamzor cheez hai, ghar ke bojh voh sahegi na akele, aurat toh kamzor cheez hai). A campaign placard on the One Billion Rising website sums up the movement poignantly — ‘Hard Times Require Furious Dancing.’

Women across the subcontinent are now using V-Day as an opportunity to rachet up already existing campaigns for real change — on the law and on governance. And social change from the inside out. Rukmini Panda, of the National Alliance of Women in Odisha, proudly declared that “this is a war.” It’s made students in Hyderabad make their own One Billion Rising video that opens with a man. And a young man from Delhi University say — “Let’s stop men from venturing out after dark. That will keep all genders safe.” It’s made the womens’ group Ekta, in Tamil Nadu, conduct a safety audit for the city of Madurai to map what is unsafe for women so that it can be changed. It’s made the Young Womens’ Christian Association, or the YWCA, in Mizoram’s capital Aizawl plan a walk with sex workers, where all women dress like sex workers in solidarity. In Delhi, the YWCA is working towards an allnight concert of, by and for women in Delhi on V-Day. And in Madhya Pradesh, the movement has made thousands of women and men turn out for a ‘one million hands’ solidarity meeting in Bhopal, where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was forced to accept two demands. That the dysfunctional helpline, 1081, would be resuscitated; and a special womens’ cell would be set up to do a budgetary analysis of what proportion of the state’s finances are being spent on the upliftment of women.

On V-Day, people from grassroots movements have planned special panchayats across all districts of Madhya Pradesh on the issue of violence against women, where a resolution will be passed. And 10,000 people will block the road set aside for VIPs in Bhopal where women will speak of violence committed against them. Far bolder, however, are the strident steps 50,000 women from Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh have pledged to take on that day. A pledge to step out of their homes and talk of rape. These are women from villages where patriarchal men have forbidden them from even mentioning the R word. In this setting, where upper caste women have been raped repeatedly, there is now a rising from the Dalit women.

 

OBR founder Eve Ensler

OBR founder Eve Ensler Photo: Ankit Agrawal

IN GUJARAT, Indian classical dancer and staunch activist Mallika Sarabhai has fused One Billion Rising with a feminism that is her own. A travelling performance called Women With Broken Wingsthat is a collaboration with Swiss pianist Elizabeth Sombart. The performance takes you through 12 stages of womanhood, from birth to the discovery of the body, its violation, death and the hope for a resurrection. At a conversation on violence against women at Delhi University’s Miranda House, she shook her captive student audience out of their comfort zone by showing them the patriarchy in their midst. A beautiful woman was in a meditative trance in the forest, and a one-eyed monkey was watching as he did some yoga of his own. Lord Indra descended from sky and was struck by her beauty. She was oblivious of him, occupied as she was with her pranayam. An incensed Indra raped her. The monkey was shocked. And the woman’s husband was outraged because his honour as an upper caste man had been sullied. He asked Vishnu to make Indra pay. Indra was summoned and made to perform an animal sacrifice as penance for which a horse was killed. He was thereby absolved of his sin. As was the Brahmin man. The woman wasn’t worthy of consideration. The performance ended with Sarabhai turning to her audience with the last thoughts of the one-eyed monkey — “Humans have a very strange system of justice.”

For many women and men who have now pledged to participate in One Billion Rising, celebrating sexuality is a secondary goal. For them, V-Day is the victory over silence and an opportunity to convert outrage into concrete action. In this pledge alone, women across the country have caused the ground beneath our feet as a nation, to shift. Wherever things go from here, they will, most likely, not be as they were before. The gates are now being pried open. The gatekeepers forced to leave.

“…to speak of them out loud, to speak of their hunger and pain and loneliness and humour, to make them visible so they cannot be ravaged in the dark without great consequence.”

―Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues

Revati Laul is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.
revati@tehelka.com

 

Eva Ensler- I am an Emotional Creature #Poetry #1billionrising #Vaw


 

 

 

At the One Billion Rising event yesterday in Delhi, she performed one of her poems.

I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE

I love being a girl.
I can feel what you’re feeling
as you’re feeling it inside
the feeling
before.
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears.
I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off
even though she appears to give you what
you want.
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won’t call back.
It’s a vibe I share.

I am an emotional creature.
I love that I do not take things lightly.
Everything is intense to me.
The way I walk in the street.
The way my mother wakes me up.
The way I hear bad news.
The way it’s unbearable when I lose.

I am an emotional creature.
I am connected to everything and everyone.
I was born like that.
Don’t you dare say all negative that it’s a
teenage thing
or it’s only only because I’m a girl.
These feelings make me better.
They make me ready.
They make me present.
They make me strong.

I am an emotional creature.
There is a particular way of knowing.
It’s like the older women somehow forgot.
I rejoice that it’s still in my body.

I know when the coconut’s about to fall.
I know that we’ve pushed the earth too far.
I know my father isn’t coming back.
That no one’s prepared for the fire.
I know that lipstick means
more than show.
I know that boys feel super-insecure
and so-called terrorists are made, not born.
I know that one kiss can take
away all my decision-making ability
and sometimes, you know, it should.

This is not extreme.
It’s a girl thing.
What we would all be
if the big door inside us flew open.
Don’t tell me not to cry.
To calm it down
Not to be so extreme
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It’s how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don’t tell the Atlantic ocean
to behave.

I am an emotional creature.
Why would you want to shut me down
or turn me off?
I am your remaining memory.
I am connecting you to your source.
Nothing’s been diluted.
Nothing’s leaked out.
I can take you back.

I love that I can feel the inside
of the feelings in you,
even if it stops my life
even if it hurts too much
or takes me off track
even if it breaks my heart.
It makes me responsible.
I am an emotional
I am an emotional, devotional,
incandotional, creature.
And I love, hear me,
love love love
being a girl.

Scream if you are being sexually harassed, says Eve Ensler #Vaw


TNN Jan 5, 2013, 03.00AM IST

MUMBAI: Scream if you are being sexually harassed on a bus (or any public place), or at the workplace. “Screaming draws attention to what a man is doing, and if women start using it as self-defence, sexual harassment at the workplace will stop,” said Eve Ensler, playwright, actor and activist.

The author of Vagina Monologues and initiator of the One Billion Rising campaign against sexual harassment was speaking at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Savitri Phule Gender Resource Centre, which was celebrating the birth anniversary of Phule on Friday.

Ensler said she learned the screaming technique from two Kenyan women who teach self-defence.

Violence against women, she said, whether subtle (leering) or extreme (rape) sustains patriarchy and women have been trained to be quiet or make the best of the situation.

“We live in silence. Everything is allowed to happen as we choose to be silent,” she said, adding, “We are trained neither to protect ourselves nor our sisters and we are always afraid of losing our husband’s affections, promotions and afraid of being stigmatized.”

To fight sexual harassment, she said, women must band together as harassment is personal and thus not allowed to become political.

Ensler said she was sexually abused by her father and though her family knew about it, they chose to keep quiet. “Years later, when I came out and spoke publicly about it, my mother apologized, saying she had sacrificed me. I do not blame my family as they were part of a power structure trying to survive.”

For such “sacrifices” to stop, she said, women must stand up for each other. “We can’t do it alone as it is too scary. We get too isolated and can get hurt. But if we are unified, then they can’t hurt us,” she said.

“So, if you hear a woman scream, you scream too,” she signed off.

 

Congolese women graduate from inaugural rape survival class


By Faith Karimi, CNN

Jan 29 (CNN) — An inaugural group of Congolese women graduated Saturday from a gender violence survivors program in the nation’s east, where armed rebels roam the hills and rape residents.

Eastern Congo residents — including men and boys — have faced brutal rapes for years, with the assailants thrusting chunks of wood and guns into them in some cases.

As part of the program in Bukavu, 180 gender violence survivors took part in activities such as group therapy, dance classes, theater, self-defense and sex education.

The six-month program, called City of Joy, also teaches leadership skills with hopes that the women will help bolster peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Upon their arrival, the faces of these women showed signs of despair, discouragement and loneliness,” said Christine Deschryver, Congo director of the program.

“Over time, they have, little by little, been helped to use their past difficulties as a source of empowerment. … These women have moved from pain to power and will return to their homes ready to help revolutionize their communities.”

The program is run by V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler, the award-winning playwright and author of “The Vagina Monologues.”
These women have moved from pain to power and will return to their homes ready to help revolutionize their communities.
Christine Deschryver

Congo’s program was created and developed by women on the ground and provides a platform to turn their pain to power, the group said.

Eastern Congo is vast and poverty-stricken, but rich in resources such as diamonds, timber and copper.

Large parts of the country lack authority, giving government soldiers and homegrown militias free rein to pillage and rape.

A study in the American Journal of Public Health last year reported that 1,152 women — or 48 per hour — are raped daily in Congo, a rate higher than previous estimates by aid agencies.

The eastern region is also a hot spot for the so-called “conflict minerals,” which led the United States to intervene after human rights groups said the resources are used to fund wars in the nation and neighboring countries.

While Congo is among the nations with the largest United Nations peacekeepers, the forces have been ineffective in stopping rapes in the sprawling, remote region.

Stability in Congo — which borders nine countries — is vital to Africa’s Great Lakes area. The eastern region has undermined peace in the nation years after a 1998-2003 conflict left 5 million people dead.

At the time, neighboring nations joined the civil war, arming rebel groups of choice to gain access to the vast resources. Some African soldiers later retreated, but some rebel groups remained and are mostly based in the east.

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