RELIGIOUS leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have
pledged to work together to end their country's reputation as the
"rape capital" of the world.
Statistics suggest that, on average, a rape takes place every 90
seconds in the Central African state.
As a consequence, the Anglican Church in DRC and the Christian
development agency Tearfund led a gathering in the capital Kinshasa
last Friday to launch a group of the international campaign We Will
The Primate of the Church of the Province of Congo, the Most
Revd Henri Isingoma Kahwa, said: "Women in our country have paid a
high price for the instability and cultural attitudes that continue
to influence our society. We are called to challenge these harmful
attitudes and to share the divine message of equality between men
and women, for the well-being of all."
The group includes the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, and
Pentecostal Churches, and the Salvation Army.
The head of Tearfund's sexual-violence unit, Veena O'Sullivan,
said: "As people of faith, we cannot tolerate the fact that rape is
endemic in our society. We are at our most powerful when we work
together to break the silence, to end the pain, and to shatter the
stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence."
Last week, a fact-finding mission to the DRC by the
International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict
called on the government and the international community to put
women at the centre of peace efforts and bring an end to sexual
In a report, Silent Suffering in Democratic Republic of
Congo, released last week, the aid group Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) said that the country faces a continuing medical
and humanitarian emergency, especially in the eastern provinces,
where fighting has been the most intense.
It said that adequate assistance is not being provided in rural
and conflict-affected areas.
MSF's medical co-ordinator in the DRC, Dr Jatinder Singh, said:
"Outbreaks of diseases like measles, malaria, and cholera occur
year after year in eastern DRC. Yet the health system is, in most
cases, unable to prevent them or to respond. As a result, many
people suffer and die, and the tragedy is that much of this human
suffering could be prevented."