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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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International News

Congo Urged to Help 40,000 Rape Victims

October 27, 2004

On Tuesday, an Amnesty International human rights report said that fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have raped at least 40,000 women and girls in the last six years. While war in the DRC was declared ended in 2003, fighting has continued sporadically in the east, and AI said all of the more than 20 groups engaged in fighting have continued to rape women and carry out other acts of violence and torture. Many raped women fear they have caught diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and their communities often shun them.

"The women we met often said: "I've no future, I'd prefer to die,'" said Veronique Aubert, an AI researcher who worked on the report. AI said the government was indifferent to the women's plight. It called for authorities to crack down on sexual violence and demanded international efforts to improve security in the east.

In addition, AI urged that an expert team examine the health system's needs. Only two hospitals can treat survivors of sexual violence, said the organization. "Having the possibility of access to aspirin to calm your pain, being able to benefit from healthcare products at the hospital -- these things are possible and don't need a lot of money," said AI researcher Marcel Carlos Akpovo. "It's the political will which is necessary."

"It's good to remind people and the government of their obligations," said Marie-Madeleine Kalala, Human Rights Minister for Congo's transitional government. "The state of degradation of this sector in our country is immense. We're not going to be able to change things in one month or two months." The cabinet will pay close attention to the AI report, she said.

Back to other news for October 27, 2004

Adapted from:
10.26.04; Andrew Gray

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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