We all have a voice and when we choose to use it for good, powerful things can happen. Chouchou Namegabe is using her voice to combat the systematic rape and violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Chouchou Namegabe's passion for journalism and radio broadcasting has become a tool for change. Namegabe grew up in the South Kivu region of the DRC and started her career as a presenter for a local radio station. As violence against women began to define the conflict in Eastern DRC, Namegabe used the radio to turn the tables.
Rape and sexual abuse have tormented the women of DRC; as reported by Namegabe, women would rather be killed. As it is throughout the world, sexual violence is highly stigmatized and victim blaming stands in the way of healing. Survivors of rape in the DRC are often cast out of families and communities. Namegabe is working to change their fate and is using media to share their stories.
In 2003, Namegabe founded the South Kivu's Women's Media Association (AFEM). She and her colleagues record and broadcast women's testimonials and have found that story telling is an important part of the healing process. The testimonials are even being used by the ICC to prosecute militia. AFEM also serves as a way to educate communities, both urban and rural, about human rights and activism.
Their objectives are:
- To inform women of their rights and the mechanisms in place to protect those rights.
- To encourage women's freedom of expression.
- To fight for equal rights between men and women.
- To fight for quantitative and qualitative gender parity in organizations and in all areas of public life.
- To facilitate women's involvement in good governance and the brokering of lasting peace.
- To support activities for women's development by helping them with communication and access to available media outlets.
- To fight against all forms of sexual violence through the media.
- To promote peace through the media (http://www.vitalvoices.org/vital-voices-women/featured-voices/chouchou-namegabe).
Namegabe has also learned that finding your voice can be dangerous. She and her fellow journalist deal with death threats and backlash as they shine light in very dark places. It seems however, that Chouchou Namegabe's voice cannot be softened, and she continues to help women throughout the DRC find theirs. At Paper Crown, we envision a world where all girls and women are free to use their voice.