Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House to speak to this matter.
As my colleague said at the beginning of his speech, we have been colleagues on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. I am very proud to be there with him.
This report is the beginning of a very important discussion, the report called “A Weapon of War: Rape and Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”.
Rape is a very hard word. The word “rape”, even as I stand here, is very hard to say. One is inclined to find euphemisms and so forth or try to talk around it, but it is very important that we understand it. It is very important that we understand these actions, not in a western concept, not in a concept of a criminal act that is perpetrated against a woman, and when this act happens, we hope that the victims can find support through their families and find support through various organization that we have here. It is a different thing altogether.
The purpose of these acts of rape, as it is used in a situation like this, as it is used in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as it was used in the Rwandan genocide—and I am proud to have brought forward a motion to study that, and we have just completed a study on the aftermath of the effect of rape during the Rwandan genocide—is to not simply humiliate, but to destroy communities, to destroy families, to create a situation where those communities cannot rebuild, to create a situation where women cannot look at their children. There is no parental bond between mother and child; and it is mother and child, because the father is not in the picture, because the father is the rapist.
In many cases, from the testimony we heard in this study as well as the study of the aftermath of the Rwandan crisis, children grew up not knowing who their father was, because the women were too ashamed to tell them that they were half of the opposing tribe—for lack of a better way of putting it—that their blood was mixed with the enemy's blood, with the violeur's blood, with that of the organization or the group that committed these atrocities. The relationship between the mother and child is non-existent. The relationship between that child and the community is non-existent. This type of action, this type of weapon that is used against women and against communities in these types of conflict has far-reaching effects.
We have talked about what role Canada can play in situations of this nature, and there are a number of recommendations that are laid out in this report; but in the sister studies that we are doing where this has happened in other nations, things like education come up, as the member for Winnipeg North brought up.
The issue is that although education is extremely important—for example, in the Rwandan situation—these children, these young adults, who have had no service because they are not considered victims of the Rwandan genocide, have no access to education to start to turn their lives around.
We have a situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have a situation in Syria, as we speak, where these types of acts are going on.
I hope every member takes the time to read this report. One of the things we need to start asking about, with regard to how Canada can help, is resources. I am not simply talking about monetary resources, but skill sets and lending the abilities that we have in psychological healing and adapting those practices to the cultural communities that are affected. We can begin to help heal and create the bonds between the mother and the offspring of this violent act. We can help create the bonds between the victims and their communities.
One of the things I hope we can gather from this report is that it takes a little more than condemnation, expressing outrage, and saying that this is a bad thing. It takes stepping in and asking what we can do to help and how we can better prepare ourselves for what is coming in the future.
This is still going on. It is still going on in the DRC. It is going on in Syria and Iraq, over and above the other atrocities we hear about in the House on a daily basis. This has a long, far-reaching effect on both the community as a whole and, as a result, the world as a whole.
In the report, we talk about the need to create equality within the communities and have women brought into decision-making positions. This is a very important aspect of what can be done to strengthen communities. Unfortunately, the role and the aim of rape used as an act of violence in war is to destroy these communities, no matter what position women hold.
In the west, we still have a tendency to look at acts like this as the spoils of war. We need to change how we see these types of act and see them for what they are. They are as dangerous and as deadly as cluster bombs. They are as dangerous and as deadly as machine gun fire. They are as dangerous and as deadly as an atomic bomb in a community. Picking up the pieces after something that drastic is not an easy task.
We, in government and in Canada, have to look at how we can use the expertise that we have, learn from other nations as well, and collaborate and coordinate that expertise so that when this happens again—and mark my words, this will happen again—we as a nation can go and offer our services, our help, and our companionship to these nations, to help heal them.
In terms of what can be done, because prevention is always something that is paramount, how do we get to a point where we can stop this from happening? I really do not know. However, one of the things we can do in situations where this could possibly happen is make sure we create safe havens for women, girls, and boys, where they are thoroughly protected by United Nations troops or whoever is deemed capable of protecting these camps, where women can go and be protected.
I encourage every member in the House to read this report, consider its recommendations, and consider the ramifications of the testimony that is found within it.