Addis Ababa—January 28, 2013
A delegation of grassroots women’s rights activists who came to the 20th African Union Summit are frustrated with continued broken promises for security and call on all Heads of States to make stronger commitments to stop rape in conflict.
Part of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict, 25 activists from Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—led by Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams (USA)—gathered in Addis Ababa. They commend the strong opening remarks on January 27 by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Both highlighted the need to end violence against women and stop rape in conflict.
The Campaign calls on all African leaders to make similar strong public statements condemning rape in conflict. We also call on Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma to make tackling conflict-related rape a priority as she takes up her term and prepares for the 50th anniversary in May.
“On the continent, women have remained vulnerable to rape for far too long and we are here to tell the African Union, enough is enough,” says Solange Lwashiga Furaha, Executive Secretary of South Kivu Congolese Women’s Caucus for Peace and member of the Campaign. “Sexual violence is continuing to tear people, families, and communities apart. Now women activists from across the continent have come to tell their leaders that they must be accountable to the women and girls of Africa.”
On the Summit agenda is ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the border conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. The delegation urges the Summit to prioritize the security needs of women and girls during its deliberations over action in both regions.
In Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, women are once again on the frontlines of violence as the M23 rebellion engages with security forces. The AU and leaders in the Great Lakes region must take immediate steps for accountability and end impunity for the crimes of rape.
In Sudan and South Sudan, while political agreements are negotiated, women and girls on the ground in South Kordofan and Blue Nile—as well as Darfur—suffer from continuing indiscriminate attacks. Humanitarian aid, with support for rape survivors, must be delivered immediately.
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki addressed the Summit on Sunday describing democracy and institutions accessible to all citizens, yet women who were raped during post-election violence in 2007-2008 are still waiting for justice. Upcoming elections on March 4 once again threaten the security of women.
No African Renaissance can happen while the continent is home to the “rape capital of the world.” We call on the African Union and all member states during the upcoming 50th anniversary in May to take collective and individual action—to stop rape in conflict.
INTERVIEW AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITY:
African Union New Building – in front of Briefing Room 3
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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict
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The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict is led by the Nobel Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and an Advisory Committee comprised of 25 organizations working at the international, regional and community levels to stop rape.
Since its launch in May 2012, more than 600 organizations from around the world have joined. The Campaign demands urgent and bold political leadership to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and calls for justice for all—including effective prosecution of those responsible.