“Claiming it was cheaper to rape a woman than waste a bullet, Congo’s fighters perfected rape as a weapon of war. They knew that if they could rape enough women, they could destroy the entire soul of a village, a region, a country. If they could impregnate the women, so much the better. Every child born of hate would place one more unwanted burden on an already reeling community.
“Some of the women we met had watched their husbands be murdered by the same rebels who later raped them. Others were so viciously violated they ended up in the hospital for months with painful wounds that never healed. And all suffered from the stigma and shame unfairly wrapped around victims of sexual violence” (Lynne Hybels, from It’s Cheaper to Rape a Woman than Waste a Bullet).
One Million Thumbprints (1MT) is a grassroots campaign seeking to catalyze a groundswell of people focused on overcoming the effects of war against women through storytelling, advocacy, and fundraising. The volunteer peacemakers of One Million Thumbprints envision a world where women are free from the fear of violence, oppression, and poverty caused by war.
Our story begins with Esperance but belongs to women everywhere. In 2012, Belinda Bauman and a group of women met Esperance while visiting the Democratic of Congo. Esperance watched her husband die at the hand of rebels. She was violently raped and would have died if her sisters hadn’t rescued her. Across a blank sheet of paper, Esperance, who can’t read or write, had someone write the words: “Tell the world.” Then she stamped her thumbprint underneath. Esperance’s thumbprint became Belinda’s mandate: violence against women in war is violence against me. One Million Thumbprints invites all of us to join Esperance by helping her, and thousands like her, to stem the tide of violence in tangible ways. One thumbprint becomes a hundred, a thousand, even a million strong (excerpt from About Us, One Million Thumbprints).
To learn more about One Million Thumbprints’ vision for responding to violence against women in war zones (and how you can participate), visit their website (linked above) or follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@1MTforPeace).