NJCASA continues to dream of and move towards a world free of sexual violence. As such, we remain committed to dismantling all systems of oppression, because it is precisely these systems that allow and require individuals, groups, and governments to enact multiple forms of violence to maintain power and dominance. Sexual violence is no exception. It is, in fact, a symptom of a deeper sickness. And as with any illness, conventional wisdom posits that the best outcome for health does not come from treating the symptom but rather the root cause.  We seek to reimagine what healthy communities here in New Jersey and across the world could be like, and we stand in solidarity with all people in their struggles for liberation and change,  including continuing to uplift the people of Palestine in calling for a ceasefire. We also want to uplift the people of Haiti, Sudan, and the Congo. These are just three countries whose movements against oppression have only recently begun gaining momentum in our collective global consciousness. This blog post highlights how imperialist powers seek to dominate and exploit others by prioritizing whose life is worthy and whose is not under a system of global white supremacy.

NJCASA acknowledges that all violence—including sexual violence, murder, armed conflict, ethnic cleansing,  and genocide—is a tactic of oppression.  As an anti-sexual-violence organization with anti-oppressive, decolonial, and liberatory lenses, we see the interconnectedness of all struggles against oppression. Thus, we recognize that the suffering of those experiencing this violence abroad is intrinsically related to instances of sexual violence locally, as all these manifestations of violence and hate are rooted in power and control. We reject the hierarchies that prioritize the humanity of one group over another and commit to amplifying the voices of those who have been marginalized and to fighting for justice on all fronts.

Haiti:
Haiti, formerly known as The Pearl of the Antilles, was once the most prosperous nation in the Western Hemisphere, a beacon of hope for liberation and independence. However, today, biased headlines often paint a distorted picture of Haiti and its people, depicting them as inherently violent, dictatorial, and unstable. Yet, the truth behind Haiti’s struggles reveals a different narrative—one deeply intertwined with the legacies of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and exploitation. Rather than being the architects of their own misfortune, the Haitian people grapple with political instability and socio-economic challenges as a direct consequence of external forces seeking to maintain dominance and control. Ayiti, The Land of the Mountains, still stands as a testament to resilience, prosperity, and freedom. And we stand with her!

Situation at a glance[1]:

  • For decades, Haiti’s gangs have been closely associated with (puppet) politicians, political parties, businessmen or other elites in the country.
  • The 2021 assassination of President Moise left a power vacuum in the country’s governance.
  • The two main groups battling for control of Port-au-Prince have been accused of mass killings and sexual violence.
  • In February 2024, powerful gangs released 4,000 inmates from Haiti’s two largest prisons.
  • Insecurity is growing at the national level. The collapsing health system, attacks on hospitals by the armed groups, and the lack of mental health services further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
  • More than 160,000 people are currently displaced in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.
  • More than 53,000 people have fled Haiti’s capital in less than three weeks, the vast majority to escape gang violence.
  • More than 60% of those internally displaced are headed to Haiti’s rural southern region, which worries UN officials since this region does not have sufficient resources or infrastructure to support the number of displaced individuals.

For More Information:

Sudan:
In Sudan, ongoing foreign-backed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began in April 2023 and has resulted in displacement, human rights abuses, and unimaginable suffering of the Sudanese people. Afro-Sudanese ethnic groups, like the Masalit tribe, have been specifically targeted, leading some rights organizations to call the situation “apparent crimes against humanity and genocide.”[2] UN Women along with the Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD) have issued reports detailing that sexual violence in Sudan is not just an unfortunate consequence of conflict but a calculated tactic employed to inflict maximum suffering and control over the population. The systematic nature of these atrocities (targeting women, children, and men indiscriminately) reveals a deliberate strategy to terrorize communities and undermine their resilience. We stand with those striving for peace, dignity, and the realization of their fundamental rights.

Situation at a glance:

  • Over 14,000 people have been killed.
  • 4 million people have been internally displaced, making it the largest internal displacement crisis globally.
  • More than 8 million people have left their homes, taking refuge internally and outside of the country, with children representing half of the displaced people. This makes Sudan the country with the largest child displacement crisis in the world.

For more information:

The Congo:
The Democratic Republic of Congo, often dubbed as the “heart of Africa,” should be the wealthiest country in the world due to its abundance of natural resources and mineral-rich earth. However, the lived experience of Congolese people is one of severe over-exploitation and injustice. Western powers, including the United States, have armed and funded militias from neighboring Rwanda and Uganda[3], enabling them to steal Congo’s precious resources. Sexual violence has been the militia’s weapon of choice to subjugate Congolese women, children, and men and force them to extract minerals, like cobalt and coltan, from the mines under hazardous conditions. The plight of the Congolese people is not a mere coincidence but a deliberate consequence of foreign intervention and capitalist exploitation, a stark reminder of the enduring legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Africa. We support and amplify calls for a free Congo!

Situation at a glance:

  • Over 6 million people have been killed since 1996, earning the war the title of “The Deadliest Conflict Since WW2.”
  • Over 7 million Congolese people are displaced.
  • On average, 48 women are sexually assaulted every hour.
  • 40,000 children are mining dangerous materials without any protective gear for less than $2 a day.
  • They are mining these minerals (cobalt, coltan, etc.) because they are necessary for tech companies to make their products, especially those with rechargeable batteries.

What you can do:

  • Avoid buying new electronics if/when you can.
  • Upcycle and recycle old tech.
  • If you have to buy new tech, purchase it refurbished if you can.
  • Talk about it and spread the message.

For more information:

The use of American tax dollars to fund militarization and conflict[4] in regions where sexual violence is used as a tactic of war is of particular concern to NJCASA.[5][6][7] [8]This not only undermines our efforts to address issues of sexual violence domestically but also implicates us in perpetuating harm internationally. It is imperative to advocate for responsible allocation of resources, prioritizing support for survivors and the well-being of communities everywhere, from our home state of New Jersey, across the entire United States of America, and abroad.

At the time that this blog is being written, a New York Times article[9] has been published detailing the horrific treatment that kidnapped Palestinians experienced at the Sde Teiman desert camp. The claims in the article describe mistreatment that included playing loud music to disrupt sleep and cause one individual’s ears to bleed, electrical shocks, physical beatings, and graphic instances of sexual assault resulting in the death of at least one man. These instances of treatment likely amount to torture and encapsulate everything that all of us in the anti-sexual violence movement must stand vehemently against.

We call on and all oppressed people to actively work towards a world free from sexual-violence, exploitation, and oppression. The best time to get active in the struggle for liberation was when you first learned about an instance of oppression. The second-best time is right now.

In solidarity.


References

[1] Al Jazeera. “Who are Haiti’s gangs and what do they want? All you need to know.” Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera Media Network, 13 Mar. 2024, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/3/13/who-are-haitis-gangs-and-what-do-they-want-all-you-need-to-know#:~:text=So%20what%20do%20they%20want,Prime%20Minister%20Henry%20to%20resign.

[2] Al Jazeera. “Sudan’s paramilitary RSF accused of ethnic cleansing in West Darfur.” Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera Media Network, 9 May 2024, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/5/9/sudans-paramilitary-rsf-accused-of-ethnic-cleansing-in-west-darfur

[3] Tampa, Vava. “Why US and UK fund Rwanda while atrocities mount up in DRC.” The Guardian, Guardian News & Media Limited, 14 Feb. 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2024/feb/14/why-us-and-uk-fund-rwanda-while-atrocities-mount-up-in-drc-vava-tampa

[4] Institute for Policy Studies. “Release: Tax Receipt 2024.” Institute for Policy Studies, https://ips-dc.org/release-tax-receipt-2024/

[5] Action Network. “Congress: Do Not Allow Our Tax Dollars to Fund Conflict in the Congo.” Action Network, https://actionnetwork.org/letters/congress-do-not-allow-our-tax-dollars-to-fund-conflict-in-the-congo

[6] The Times of Israel. “US sending Israel $1 billion in military aid, Biden administration tells Congress.” The Times of Israel, 12 Mar. 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-sending-israel-1-billion-in-military-aid-biden-administration-tells-congress/.

[7] Politico. “Israel aid passes, wrapping foreign aid bill.” Politico, 20 Apr. 2024, https://www.politico.com/live-updates/2024/04/20/congress/israel-aid-passes-wrapping-foreign-aid-bill-00153494.

[8] United States Department of State. “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXIII, Southeast Asia.” Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1964-68v23/d1#:~:text=In%20August%201960%2C%20the%20U.S.,provided%20advice%20and%20financial%20subsidies.

[9] The New York Times. “Israel Plans to Open Detention Base for Gaza Border Residents.” The New York Times, 6 June 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/06/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-detention-base.html.

Escape