Imagine being raped by military forces in your country, and then not being able to get asylum in other countries. This is not fiction, but reality for women. Victims of sexual violence are not defined as refugees by international law (Refugee convention, art. 1.A.). If you are not defined as a refugee, you cannot get asylum. Consequently, victims of sexual violence face huge obstacles getting asylum all over the world. This is the case for women who have been raped by government soldiers. The Congolese government use rape as a military strategy against women and children.
Despite the fact that these women due to European Union law are being defined as refugees in all countries of the EU, several EU countries deport women to a government that rapes them. Sweden, a country famous for welcoming refugees with open arms as well as being one of the most “feminist countries”, has been deporting victims of sexual violence for over 12 years. According to international law (Convention against torture, art. 3) , it is crime of torture to deport someone to a country where she will face torture. The United Nations has stated in judicial decisions – not once, but twice – that Sweden is breaching international law when deporting women to Congo-Kinshasa. Nevertheless, Sweden continues to deport rape victims to Congo-Kinshasa. Unfortunately, this is not just the case in Sweden. Many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Finland and the United States, have for many years been deporting women who have been raped by Congolese government soldiers, to the hands of the Congolese government.
As girls, as women, we do not feel safe in a society where our courts of law and state authorities do not consider it to be torture to deport women to countries where the government use rape as a weapon of war. The movement is not aimed to be a movement about Congolese women’s rights, nor is it about migration rights. To view the situation these women are in as a problem for “refugees” or for “black/Congolese women” is to misinterpret the gravity of the situation. It is to build artificial limits, and to see it as something merely happening to women from a country far away, when the issue lies within our own countries and systems of law. We shut our eyes to the fact that the most “feminist and refugee friendly countries” set aside international law to deport women to rapist regimes, and what that says about our state authorities’ and courts of laws’ views regarding the value of women. By treating it as an issue for “black women” or “Congolese women”, instead of an issue for “women”, these women are treated as “the other” and the crimes done, as crimes towards “someone else”. These women are not “women from a country far away”, these women are our sisters. By deporting our sisters, our public bodies and courts of law justify and enable the use of rape as a weapon of war. Take action and join the movement. Share #oursisters on social media and read more about this project, the situation in DRC/ Congo-Kinshasa, migration laws discriminating against women and how to get involved.
Link to full interview with Indian lawyer Kirthi Jayakumar: http://ahimsa.redelephantfoundation.org/2019/02/from-our-sisters-by-our-sisters-for-our.html