The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital city of Kinshasa on May 10-11. Events were also held in Eastern Congo, with a launch in Bukavu.
An official ceremony on May 11 held at the Carter International Center was attended by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Advisory Committee member Ann Patterson of Peace People and Campaign Coordinator Yee Htun. The ceremony was organized by Solidarite Feminine Pour la Paix et le Developpment Integral (SOFEPADI) and Fonds Pour Les Femmes Congolais (FFC) and was well attended by members of the diplomatic community, international humanitarian organizations working in Congo, local activists, and media.
Maguire emphasized the need to end impunity in Congo, "Every person in this world has a right to live their life in peace. When horrible crimes, such as rape and gender violence are committed, as a community we must gather strength and support the survivors to ensure they receive justice they deserve. We must help place the stigma of this crime onto the perpetrators so the cycle of violence can be broken."
The event included testimony from women survivors of rape who pledged support for the Campaign.
A day earlier, on May 10, SOFEPADI's Julienne Lusenge led a delegation of local grassroots activists and Campaign representatives for a meeting with the President of Parliament to discuss the role of government in preventing rape and protecting the population. After hearing testimonies of the survivors of rape who were in attendance, the government vowed to assign legal aid to the women's cases.
Campaign representatives also met with the Secretary General of the Minister of Justice and representatives from the the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).
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.