DR Congo

DR Congo: World Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women: More dangerous to be a woman than a soldier

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On the eve of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, CARE staff report it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Extreme forms of violence against women and girls have been reported in the DRC for over a decade, but the latest fighting has brought another epidemic of atrocities.

Violence against women occurs throughout the world, and indeed in some countries, such as the Congo, it has reached horrifying proportions. According to the UN, violence is now a major cause of death and disability for women aged 15-44 around the world as they are raped, abducted, humiliated, abused and forced into slavery.

'Violence against women is a silent epidemic that occurs everywhere and women caught up in conflict or living in communities that are already marginalised are most at risk. We know that globally one in three women have been beaten or abused. We also know that, because of the stigma of this violence, abuse is under reported and the number of women experiencing violence could actually be far greater,' says CARE Australia CEO Dr Julia Newton-Howes.

The current situation in Congo, where more than 400 women a month are raped and abused as a weapon of war, demonstrates the true horror of violence against women. CARE is working there, and in vulnerable communities around the world, to promote the safety and equality of women.

Amidst the volatile situation in the Congo, not only has CARE accessed affected communities to meet their immediate humanitarian needs, the organisation has also seen that the women who have been subjected to unimaginable brutality and humiliation receive appropriate support.

'Even in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis, it is essential to respond to the particular circumstances faced by women,' says Dr Newton-Howes.

CARE has gender based specialists in the country; ensuring women who have been subjected to violence receive counseling and medical attention as well as basic relief items such as food and shelter.

The International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women reminds us all of the tens of thousands of women and girls affected by rape, attack and abuse: CARE calls for this silent epidemic to end.