UN Population Fund joins in Congolese campaign against sexual violence

19 March 2008 –

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has joined forces with civil society groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to launch a nationwide public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the country’s appalling levels of sexual violence.

In the capital, Kinshasa, Congolese authorities, NGOs and civil society groups participated yesterday in a motor vehicle procession from downtown to alert the public to the campaign, which is entitled “Sexual violence: together, let is say NO to shamed silence for the dignity of Congolese.”

The month-long campaign, which covers all 11 provinces of the DRC, will also include radio and television programmes dedicated to the subject, video forums, conferences in schools, marches and the popularization of laws about sexual violence. It also ties in to the campaign launched last month by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on preventing such violence worldwide.

Sexual violence is rampant across the DRC, with an average of 1,100 rape cases reported each month in the country, with perpetrators from all sectors of society.

Earlier this year, after a visit to the country, Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, called for international action to help women in the DRC who are victims of sexual violence.

Ms. Ertürk noted that countless victims are in inaccessible areas with little or no form of redress. “The justice system, the penitentiary system, is in deplorable conditions,” she said, adding that often victims must pay for access to the courts in what she described as a “major obstacle to justice.”

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