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End Sexual Violence in Democratic Republic of Congo

8/6/2007

End Sexual Violence in Democratic Republic of Congo

Today, V-Day and UNICEF announce a new campaign - "Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo," to help end the rape and sexual torture in the DRC.

The campaign coincides with the release of the September issue of Glamour Magazine, on newsstands today, which features a new article by Eve on her first-hand encounters with women in eastern DRC. Eve describes her June visit to Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where UNICEF funds medical assistance, counseling, and practical support for women who have experienced sexual violence. The article reveals their intensely personal stories, their undying spirit, and the work of such heroes as Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Panzi Hospital where many of the survivors, often young girls, are treated.

Since 1996, sexual violence against women and children in the eastern part of the DRC is being extensively used as a weapon of war to torture, humiliate, and destroy families in villages in the war zone. In addition to the serious psychological consequences, survivors are often left with genital lesions, traumatic fistulae, unwelcome pregnancies and STDs. An estimated 25-50% of all the survivors of sexual violence are children, predominantly girls.

"Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo" is being initiated by the women of Eastern DRC, V-Day and UNICEF on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. The campaign calls for an end to the violence and to impunity for those who commit these atrocities.

"Before I went to the Congo, I'd spent the past 10 years working on V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls. I'd traveled to the rape mines of the world--places like Bosnia, Afghanistan and Haiti, where rape has been used as a tool of war. But nothing I ever experienced felt as ghastly, terrifying and complete as the sexual torture and attempted destruction of the female species here. The violence is a threat to all; young girls and village elders alike are at risk. It is not too strong to call this a femicide, to say that the future of the Congo's women is in serious jeopardy," Eve states.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman who has also been to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, added, "When you have spoken to these women and girls, and listened to their stories, you clearly understand just how devastating their circumstances are. Simple, everyday tasks, like gathering wood or fetching water, expose them to grave danger. They must be allowed to live in a secure environment."

The "Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo" campaign calls for an end to impunity for sexual violence, for measures to ensure that state armed forces and police do not perpetrate sexual violence against women and girls and for the full implementation of national laws that protect and empower women.

To read the full press release please click here

How you can help:

* Visit the "Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo" website for information and resources, http://www.vday.org/drcongo. Click here to download a letter you can sign and send.

* Write to the President of DRC, His Excellency the President of DR Congo Joseph Kabila Kabange, urging the Government to do more to stop violence against women and girls and bring perpetrators to justice. Send letters to P.O. Box 3862, New York, NY 10163.

* Donate to the "Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power To The Women And Girls Of The Democratic Republic Of Congo" campaign at https://secure.ga4.org/01/drcongo

* Educate yourself, your friends and your community. Hold reading groups and learn about women and girls in the DRC and other conflict zones around the world.

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