Marine biologist Sheril Kirshenbaum is, along with Chris Mooney, a co-blogger at The Intersection, a blog on science and public policy whose RSS feed should be in your reader, and if it isn’t, you should go, right now, and rectify the situation.
Done? Good. Now let’s talk about the epidemic of rape facing young women around the world.
Sorry to shift gears without depressing the clutch, but I do so for a reason: to draw attention to an effort launched by Kirshenbaum to attack a problem that is horrifying in its scope:
Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rapeand abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.
In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristofrecently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months. Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under. We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls. Together we can do more. Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.
Silence Is The Enemy was born–so named because we will not be. All through June, I’ll continue posting information, details, benchmarks, and let everyone know about progress made, new initiatives, and stories from the region. I encourage others to do so as possible. The Intersection, On Becoming A Laboratory And Domestic Goddess, Aetiology, Bioephemera, Neurotopia, The Questionable Authority, DrugMonkey, andAdventure In Ethics And Science will be donating all revenue this month to Doctors Without Borders. The goal is two-fold: Raising funds and–arguably more importantly–awareness. Since blogging revenue increases with traffic, we hope to get people to keep coming back for more information about what’s going on and thinking about how to make a difference. Do not feel obligated to donate, but it’s one idea. There are many ways to contribute: Write and email Members of Congress (Congressional Directory here), speak at community meetings, encourage others to get involved, or donate to our chosen charity (Doctors Without Borders). Help us maximize our donations by visiting Isis, Jessica, Tara, Neurotopia, Mike, DrugMonkey, Janet and returning here often because every click will help raise money. Spread the word. We want to make sure elected officials at multiple levels realize this is a global issue that matters to a large voting constituency!
I will be donating to Médecins Sans Frontières this month, and I encourage others to do the same. But whether you can donate money, or simply can donate your effort spreading the word that rape is not acceptable, and that you support efforts to end it, your efforts matter. It is incumbent on all of us to say that we will not be silent in the face of these attacks, and that the safety and well-being of the women and girls of Africa matters every bit as much as the safety of Americans.
- Wal-Mart: Enemy of the Free Market
- Know Thine Enemy: Fetal Personhood as Metaphorical Thinking (Repost)
- Open thread, vow of silence edition
- Two Appearances in Maryland: A poetry reading from "The Silence Of Men" and "Translation as Plagiarism as Cultural Transmission: How Benjamin Franklin Helped Bring Classical Iranian Literature Into English"