Background on the Campaign
The atrocities being perpetrated against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are nothing less than a femicide – the systematic destruction of the Congolese female population. Since 1996, sexual violence against women and girls in the Eastern DRC has been used as a weapon of war to torture, humiliate and destroy not only women and girls, but entire families and whole communities. Since the conflict began, hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped. Advocates from the region have told stories of unthinkable atrocities that are taking place, including cannibalism, chopping off body parts, rape with tools and weapons, and sexual assault of minors as young as 10 months and elders as old as 87 years. Many members of the female population within the region have endured sexual slavery, kidnapping, unlawful detention, recruitment of young girls into armed forces, and forced prostitution.
As before the war, discrimination against women and girls underlies the violence perpetrated against them. The current climate of impunity allows sexual violence to flourish.
In December 2006, Eve Ensler interviewed Dr. Denis Mukwege, head of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, about conditions in Eastern DRC. Panzi Hospital is presently the only referral hospital in North and South Kivu available to meet the high demand for services for women victims of sexual violence and fistula treatment.
In May 2007, Eve traveled to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu and the HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma. The violence perpetrated against women there, and scale of damage that Eve saw firsthand was so horrific that V-Day decided to initiate the Congo campaign, and begin work towards the development of City of Joy. Conceived and developed by the women on the ground in partnership with V-Day and the Panzi Fondation (DRC), the construction of the City of Joy started in September 2009 and opened its doors in June 2011.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events organized by volunteer activists in the U.S. took place around the world educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million; educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it; crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns; reopened shelters; and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements including Worth Magazine's 100 Best Charities, Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities, one of the Top-Rated organizations on Charity Navigator and Guidestar. vday.org