July 7, 2009
In parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, rape is truly an epidemic. The victims range from children to babies who are only months old to the elderly, and every age in between.
Tuesday a group with a Charlottesville connection took its knowledge to the Congo hoping to help the women who suffer every day. In the Congo, a world-wide relief organization treats around 250 new rape victims in its clinics every month.
Forensic nurse Sarah Anderson coordinates the sexual assault nurse examiner program at UVa. and teaches a course on the subject.
She has taken that skill set to South Africa before, and now she will return to Africa.
"It's effects on women are just devastating. It can cause anything from the long lasting effects of PTSD, to nightmares, problems with self image, and just generalized health problems," said Anderson.
Anderson and other health experts will work with care givers in Africa to see what services they have and what they need to teach them how to work with rape victims.
"By offering portions of the training, it would offer health care providers information on how to address the emotional needs, the physical needs, and also to hopefully lead to some direction towards criminal prosecution at some point," said Anderson.
Anderson hopes her trip will be the first of many meetings striving to give a voice to the voiceless in their fight for justice half a world away.