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Breaking The Silence in Congo

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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Written by Scott Gilbert and Kaila Newby

Guelph students are participating in a campaign to raise awareness of sexual violence against women. It's called Breaking the Silence in Congo Week and 125 campuses around the world are organizing awareness and fundraising events.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the site of the deadliest war since World War II. Since 1996 almost 6 million people have died, half of which were children under the age of 5.

For a decade, sexual violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been used as a war weapon. Thousands of women and girls are raped every year, often destroying their bodies, families, and entire community lives.

Many multinational corporations rely on Congo's natural resources. Congo contains 80% of the world's coltan, a natural resource used in laptops, cell phones, video games and many other electronic devices that we use and enjoy every day. Manufacturers gain access to coltan through militia who mine it illegally, providing finances and demand for conflict.

Today (October 22nd) we are taking part in an event called the "Cell Out" where we are encouraging people to turn off their cell phones to boycott the exploitation of Congo's natural resources. At 1:30 there will be women walking around campus, some in bathing suits, shorts and/or tank tops, with writing on their bodies about what sexual violence or ownership over our own bodies means to them.

Tomorrow (October 23rd) there will be a music night at the Bull Ring from 7 - 10pm to raise funds for Panzi hospital which treats women for injuries sustained as a result of sexual violence. We will also be having a midnight bake sale down town on Thursday and Friday nights to raise money for the same cause.

Guelph students are encouraged to participate in this event, contribute much-needed funds, and if anything, learn more about this important issue.

For more information on the campaign in Guelph, please contact Kaila Newby at

For more information about Congo week that runs until the 25th of October, please visit http://www.congoweek.org/english

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