The campaign, with its procession of motor vehicles that started from downtown, mobilized women from NGOs, member associations of the civil society, Congolese authorities, partners of the UN system and of Belgian and Canadian cooperation. Most of them had T-shirts that bore such slogans as “No to Sexual Violence in the DRC.”
Under the theme «Sexual Violence: Together, let us say NO to shamed silence for the dignity of Congolese”, the campaign comes in the framework of the one launched on 25 February last in New York by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for the prevention and eradication of sexual violence to women, said minister of Gender, Family and Child Philomène Omatuku.
The campaign aims at bringing the public to more awareness of the extent of sexual violence of which women and young girls are victims. Moreover, and more importantly, it is about pleading at the different actors’ level to break the silence that has been generally noticed in regards to sexual violence issues, as well as popularizing laws on sexual violence by urging the judicial authorities to take appropriate measures to stop the impunity that the perpetrators of violence enjoys.
The campaign also responds to the concern of the head of State, who, in 2005 in Kindu, denounced those acts and called on the government to take the necessary measures to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of that violence, with the launch of “Zero tolerance for sexual violence” policy. He reiterated the same wish on 26 January in his address during the Goma Conference.
Worth reminding that in the DRC, if sexual violence was used as a weapon by the belligerent forces involved in the different conflicts, currently it is not limited only to men in uniform. Such violence is now also committed by people in position of authority and power, and by the rest of the population. That was all demonstrated and denounced through songs, theater plays performed by guest musicians and actors.
According to the Initiative Conjointe de lutte contre les violences sexuelles, the extent of the situation in the DRC is worrying as the phenomenon is spreading, sweeping the youth in particular. The frequency of sexual violence occurrences in the DRC remained high and extremely worrying in 2007. It has been reported that an average of 1,100 rape cases occur each month in the 11 Congolese provinces, that is 13,247 rape cases in 2007.
The Initiative Conjointe underscored that these statistics are only the visible part of the iceberg, because they are just figures known thanks to those women who have wanted to break the silence, to make their voices heard, to receive appropriate care and denounce those who caused their pain. This reality is actually due to insecurity, to problems of inaccessibility to care-taking structures, to difficulties to meet the victims.
The one-month-long campaign will be extended to the 11 provinces of the DRC. Radio and TV programs, procession of motor vehicles and marches, conferences in schools, video-forums on sexual violence are part of the program, along with the popularization of laws on sexual violence. These laws will be translated into four national languages. Besides, the campaign plans to launch a green line on sexual violence.
Worth noting that, during the launch of the campaign, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gave to some women who work in NGOs farming kits, mainly watering-cans, rakes, machetes and seeds in order to encourage their farming activities.