Thursday, June 19, 2008

Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo on

Films That Make a Difference June 16th, 2008 For those of you in the New York area, we here at PeaceKeeper want to take some time out of your day to raise awareness about rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human Rights Watch International is holding a screening of Lisa Jackson’s film The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo on Tuesday June 17th at 6:30 p.m. and on Thursday, June 18th at 1:30 p.m. as a part of their festival highlighting human rights messages. Winner of a Special Jury Prize for a Documentary at the Sundance Film festival this year, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo is not only a shocking and emotional expose on the widespread practice of rape in war-torn Congo, but it also documents the healing process of the director, Lisa Jackson, who was gang-raped as a young woman. A good mix of autobiography and documentary, the film does an exemplary job of illustrating the political and social problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a resource-rich nation with a highly unstable and feeble central government which has lead to international and civil wars; over 4 million people have been killed in the DRC since 1998. The contrast of the physical beauty of the nation and the ugliness of war is stunning; however it is the inner strength of these women, these survivors that give this film its power. Jackson took over all aspects of production of the film; it is clear to the viewers how important this topic is for her. During her journey to the Kivu lakes region in the east of the DRC, Lisa Jackson met with the area’s Special Victims Unit (one woman covering vast amounts of territory), doctors at the Panzi Hospital who work with victims to treat the physical (often extensive) wounds of rape and UN peacekeepers assigned to the area, all to document their stories and perceptions of rape in the Congo. She even went so far as to interview self-professed rapists to inquire as to their justifications and beliefs surrounding the use of rape as an intimidation tactic during war. While these attitudes paint a dismal portrait for the future of the DRC, the message of courage and strength of survivors and those who continue to fight to stop rape resonates long after the film The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo ends. The faith-based support groups as well as work programs for rape survivors illustrate the inner strength of these women to continue to live even after being dehumanized by their society; many rape survivors are rejected by their husbands and communities. While this film is heartbreaking at times, it’s vital to spread knowledge of these women’s stories, their strength and their struggles. Please take the time to acknowledge the women who have shown the strength to speak up and work with Human Rights Watch International to promote awareness as a whole. Information on the screening of The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo can be found here.

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