Ministers assess impact of rape in Congolese conflict

16 October 2015

ABDEL KAVANAGH/MONUSCO

 

 

RAPE survivors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) told their stories of abuse to British Foreign Ministers and diplomats at a UK-funded project to prevent sexual violence.

The DRC has been described by the UN as the “rape capital of the world”, where 48 women and girls are estimated to be raped every hour.

Rape is used in the DRC as a punishment and as a weapon of war, by soldiers and state officials, despite the fragile peace that has been achieved since the M23 rebels, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army, ended their insurgency in 2013 (News, 1 March 2013).

The Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay, was part of a delegation that made a four-day visit to the DRC this month.

The charity Tearfund, which works with the Province of the Anglican Church of the Congo, introduced her to one of its community action groups, where religious leaders help rape survivors to report crimes and to be accepted back into their communities.

Lady Anelay (above, left) thanked survivors for their bravery in speaking out. She said: “Your voices have been heard, and may your voices stay strong.”

The UN currently has 20,000 peacekeepers serving in MONUSCO (the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), which is the UN’s largest mission worldwide.

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