Monday, February 19, 2007

Darfur Hero: US Dr. 9 mos counseling rape victims

Local Counselor Helps in Darfur
VIDEO: Local Counselor Helps Out In Darfur Reporter: Ashley Fielder

After counseling victims of sexual and domestic violence for 20 years here in the Springs, a local counselor wanted a new challenge.

She traveled to Darfur with a humanitarian group called Doctors Without Borders.

Janet Kerr spent nine months in an area that's in the midst of civil war.

200,000 people have been murdered and two million displaced.

She went to help those living at the largest refugee camp in the world housing 120,000 people.

“It's overwhelming it just seems so surreal at first,” said Janet Kerr.

But kerr dealt mostly with the wounds that don't bleed.

She opened this mental health clinic to help victims of sexual violence, a problem that plagues the area.

“Sexual violence is used as a weapon of war over there,” said Kerr.

Women going for wood are attacked and raped by militia on a daily basis.

“Then tthey send them back to their families as way to undermine the social structure.”

Because once the women get home they're considered impure, ostercized by their families, and abused by their husbands.

That's what happened to one woman Kerr helped.

“He was horrible to her, he beat her, held a knife to her throat, a gun to her head.”

The woman escaped and walked for five months with three small children to get to the refugee camp.

It's one of many stories Kerr says changed her life.

“One of the gifts I brought back is that I don't take my life here for granted so much anymore.”

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