Friday, February 20, 2009

Action to Stop The War Against Women in the DRC

As a long-time member of Amnesty International, I would like to share an action alert email with you that I got recently (below). It is important for us to remember how women are treated in other parts of the world, and that we cannot allow it to continue. Secretary of State Clinton has consistently shown her commitment for the rights of women. Please take a moment to urge her to use her considerable talents to put an end to the War on Women in the DRC.

Help leverage U.S. influence for peace in the DRC: Tell Secretary Clinton to Stop the War on Women in the DRC

Take Action Now!

Dear Amy,

The ten-year tangle of alliances, invasions and proxy warfare centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made the region the world's deadliest killing ground since WWII.

Rape is systematically used as a weapon of war and children are forced to fight for armed groups. Peace in the DRC means putting an end to the institutionalized violence against women and children. Click here to watch a video of Congolese children speaking about their experiences as child soldiers.

The recent dramatic reversal of alliances between the DRC and its conflict-entangled neighbors, Uganda and Rwanda, combined with the withdrawal of Hutu rebels has opened a small window for peace in the region.

Your action today can help us make real progress on ending violence against women and children across the region.

The U.S. has considerable economic and political influence over both the DRC and Rwanda—no other country combines such influence. Sign our letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to leverage our voice to strenghten support for the UN peacekeeping mission and protect women and children in the DRC.

Rape is used in the conflict as a calculated strategy to destabilize opposition groups as well as promote fear and submission. It is not unusual for mothers and daughters to be raped in front of their families and villages. Human rights activists working to end violence against women often face grave threats of violence themselves.

Justine Masika Bihamba is one such activist. Because of her work to end violence against women, she and her family have been targeted.

Justine described the current situation in Congo as a war against women. "When two sides fight, the one punishes the other by raping women," she said.

Putting an end to the rampant sexual violence and the use of child soldiers is essential to ensuring peace in the region.

Secretary Clinton has said that women's rights are one of her top priorities. Make sure her promises become reality.

Add your name to our letter to Secretary Clinton urging her to take concrete steps to protect women in the DRC.


Larry Cox
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

"On the Frontlines" is a co-production of WITNESS and AJEDI-ka/PES.

Watch video now:

The Online Action Center has this additional information:

If the peace process in the DRC is to succeed, it requires, as a fundamental first step, an immediate end to sexual violence, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the immediate and unconditional release of children from the armed groups. The US Government can play a key role in making these measures a priority via the International Facilitation Team and its own diplomatic relations with the DRC. Write to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and urge the US government to:

* Provide full support to MONUC’s Senior Adviser/Coordinator on Sexual Violence in the development of a comprehensive strategy to strengthen UN prevention, protection and response to sexual violence, in line with Security Council resolutions 1794 (2007) and 1820 (2008).
* Press and assist the DRC government to provide aid to survivors of rape and other sexual violence and former child soldiers through programs of medical and psychosocial care, community reintegration and social welfare, which should be free of charge.
* Ensure that elimination of violence against women and children and the ending of impunity are key priorities in any program to support security forces and judicial reform.
* Urge the DRC government to prioritize rehabilitation and reform of the DRC’s civilian justice system to enable effective and independent investigations and trying of cases of human rights violations, with special emphasis on sexual violence and violence against children.

Please take a moment to contact Secretary of State Clinton, and stand up for these women. Thank you.

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