In a recent column Amy Goodman wrote about her interview with Eve Ensler, author of the play “The Vagina Monologues,” and Ensler’s battle against uterine cancer, as well as its connection to violence against the women of Eastern Congo.
Ensler wrote an essay titled “Congo Cancer” in which she stated that the cancer was not really her poison. She told Goodman that the “cancer has been a huge gift.” The poison is the epidemic of rape, torture and violence committed against the women and girls of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC.
In her column Goodman explains that since 1996 hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped in the DRC, victims of femicide. Only last month Rwandan and Congolese rebels invaded villages and gang raped 200 women and five young boys. The rapes happened within miles of a U.N. peacekeeping base, and for three weeks went unreported.
Ensler’s organization called V-Day has been working with Panzi Hospital, the only facility where these women can receive good treatment. V-Day is also building a woman controlled safe zone that is attached to the hospital, and is called “The City of Joy.” Ensler explains that the City of Joy for which the women themselves developed the plans is “a place where they could heal, where they could be trained, where they could become leaders, where they had time and a respite to rebuild themselves and redirect their energies towards their communities.”
Ensler is still undergoing chemotherapy. This remarkable woman told Goodman that the Congolese women saved her life. She said that every day she thinks that if a woman of the Congo can get up each morning after undergoing horrendous torture, then what problems does she have. She thinks of how they dance and sing and keep going, in spite of being forgotten by the world. Ensler thinks that she has to get better in order to see the day when the women of the Congo are free. She says, “I have to live to see the day when the women of Congo are free, because if those women are free, women throughout the world will be free and will get to continue.”
Ensler’s words are remarkable, and her courage is uplifting.