The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict officially launched in Eastern Congo on May 11, with a ceremony in South Kivu’s Bukavu. Organized by Physicians for Human Rights, Panzi Hospital, and Solidarite Feminine Pour la Paix et le Developpment Integral (SOFEPADI), the event brought representatives from over 50 local grassroots organizations together, some coming from as far as North Kivu.
Doctor Mukwege, Director of Panzi Hospital, encouraged the audience to put into effect solutions that address the root causes of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The event included testimony from survivors and an open debate for next steps to stop rape in Congo. Participants in attendance were eager to discuss how gender violence has been used as a weapon of war against the population in Eastern Congo. Rape was identified to be a consequence of both the current global situation, as well as the crisis in the region over natural resources.
Local grassroots activists highlighted concerns with how external funding was dispersed in the country and called for increased support to community-based initiatives working at the local levels to break the cycle of violence.
Participants at the event pledged support for the Campaign and look forward to mobilizing for coordinated action.
Despite war formerly ending with a peace agreement almost a decade ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be embroiled in conflict. Rape and gender violence has been marked by extreme brutality, and the country has received the unwelcome distinction as the rape capital of the world. Learn more about the Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict and gender violence.