Rome (Italy). On November 23, 2018, at the Jesuit Curia in Rome, a meeting was held entitled “Focusing on sexual violence in conflicts” organized by the Embassies of Great Britain and Belgium together at “Jesuit Refugee Service”. Sr. Elena Rastello of the Youth Pastoral Sector participated, representing the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The meeting aims to raise awareness on global action to combat the crime of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war. The panel presented the contribution that female and male religious Congregations offer for the care, support, and integration of victims and survivors.
There are thousands and thousands of women, young people, and girls raped and marked for life by sexual violence suffered in conflicts. For power, possession, and supremacy, communities and villages are terrorized, as in Bosnia in the 1990s, and to persuade them not to resist, aggressors mainly use violence against women. During the meeting two activists were presented and awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize: A young Yazidi Iraqi woman, Nadia Murad, who fought for human rights and peace after being held captive by ISIS in August 2014, held hostage along with many of her people’s women, and then became a symbol of the genocide of her community and UN ambassador for the dignity of survivors of trafficking in human beings; and a doctor from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denis Mukwege, who devotes his life to treating women victims of abuse and violence. It is a merited recognition of two courageous and tenacious activists, able to pay in person for their service to peace through nonviolent struggle to recognize the pain that women suffer because of sexual abuse and to reaffirm their human dignity.
At the end of the meeting, the video “The man who repairs women” was projected, a documentary film to learn about the work of Dr. Mukwege and to show the effectiveness of choices of the doctor who builds peace and justice and that are an authentic nonviolent struggle alongside many women, especially the most defenseless: “How many times, looking at them in their beds of pain, I despaired and I asked myself: how can they recover?
And every time I discover that they stand up not for themselves, but for their families and for their children. I believe that we men have a lot to learn from them”.
Many religious bend with tenderness over the wounds of women. In those women, in their stories, on their faces, they see the reflection of the suffering and weeping face of Christ today.