This weekend saw something revolutionary—not just in Egypt, but in the Congo. The V-Day foundation, led by playwright and GRITtv guest Eve Ensler, opened its first City of Joy, a compound that will help Congolese women, many of them rape survivors, heal and learn, as V-Day puts it, to “turn their pain to power.”
The compound cost around $1 million, and hopes to graduate 180 women per year. Ensler told the New York Times, “You build an army of women,” and they take power for themselves.
Just $1 million, to help heal survivors and support them as they lead their country away from violence. We spend a million a year, per soldier per year in Afghanistan. Imagine.
(The US Navy spent $450,000 to fly jets over the Super Bowl. In fact, over the $1.15 billion stadium’s closed dome!)
What would the world look like, I wonder, if instead of invading countries, often in the name of women's rights, we created support centers for women? If instead of spending $376 billion on the war in Afghanistan, we created 376,000 Cities of Joy?
Just one year of the war budget, $117 billion for fiscal year 2012, could give us 21 million women supported, trained and motivated to heal from the violence they've faced. Talk about civil society. Talk about—that catch phrase in Washington today—orderly transition to a new tomorrow.
At home, Republicans (and some Blue Dog Democrats) elected in the name of job creation and fiscal responsibility are instead trying to criminalize rape victims and their doctors if they choose abortion. Their "family values" laws would watch women die rather than risk harm to a fetus. Those same members of Congress like to talk about being prolife, but they almost all support our wars. For my money, what Ensler and V-Day are doing looks much more like the real thing.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.