Emory Report
March 2, 2009
Volume 61, Number 22



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March 2, 2009

Sexual terrorism in the Congo
“Vagina Monologues” author and activist Eve Ensler interviewed Congolese gynecologist and 2008 Human Rights prizewinner Denis Mukwege to kick off Emory’s V-Day campaign to raise awareness and stop violence against women.

Mukwege, through a translator, graphically detailed the “sexual terrorism” abuses he treats and how rape is destroying communities throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. Often committed publicly using anything from bayonets to broken glass, militiamen use rape as a weapon of war. “It has nothing to do with sexual desire,” Mukwege said. For the victim, “this is complete psychological destruction.”

Mukwege told the Ethics Center audience he is hopeful for the future. “Today I see a great transformation of people willing to help,” he said. —Kim Urquhart

U.S. Constitution allows for change
It’s hard to believe today that any congressman would oppose the Violence Against Women Act, “but they did,” said Victoria Nourse, L. Q. C. Lamar Professor of Law, during her recent Life of the Mind lecture.

Nourse described working for Joe Biden, when he was a senator pushing for the act, which passed in 1994. The victory belonged to women’s groups who fought long and hard for it, she said. “Constitutional power comes from the bottom, not the top.”

The structure of the Constitution has allowed the country to change from a place where races were segregated and women could not vote into a place of greater equality, Nourse said, adding that we have farther to go. —Carol Clark

Octuplets mom’s repercussions
“I think there is a clear responsibility to protect the welfare of…a potential child,” said Kathy Kinlaw, associate director of Emory’s Center for Ethics, in a panel discussing the Suleman octuplets case. “So, how you weigh those interests against the interests of a particular woman who wishes to have children is something we need to think carefully about.”

The panel discussed issues such as the right to have children, assessing a parent’s child rearing ability, and limiting the number of embryos transferred during fertility services.

This Emory Law panel was part of the “Motherhood at the Intersection of Race and Class” series. —Liz Chilla