Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thousands Protest in Kinshasa against Rape as War Weapon

Thousands demonstrated in Kinshasa on Tuesday against rape as a weapon of war in eastern Congo. Eastern Congo, where brutal rape (the adjective is unfortunately not redundant) has become common, is said to be the worst place in the world to be born a woman. Monuc's story on the demonstration is here. The KongoTimes story is here.

The National March of Congolese Women departed from Central Station on the 30th June Boulevard and walked to the Palais de Justice, where they read a manifesto titled "A Declaration by Congolese Women against Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War." The manifesto is available here.

Rape in eastern Congo is on the cusp of becoming an international cause celebre. The issue has been widely discussed in the United States, in popular TV programs such as 60 Minutes and Oprah, and in reports, documentaries and magazines aimed at a broad public. The work of Eve Ensler and Mia Farrow has been critical in raising public awareness. Among many other groups, Human Rights Watch just published its umpteenth letter pleading for an end to the sexual violence.

Sadly, an Agence France Presse article says that the incidence of rape is rising in Kinshasa:
Kinshasa has become a hotbed of rape by men posing as policemen. As armed militiamen rape and kill hundreds of women in the war-ravaged east of the country, the capital has witnessed a similarly disturbing rise in this trend.

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