Congo, Hilary Clinton in Congo, rape in the Congo
Roberto Schmidt, Pool/AP Photo
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, addresses a panel discussion with the Heal
Africa clinic in Goma, Congo, on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009.

Clinton Urges Congolese to Advocate for Rape Victims

August 13, 2009 06:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
In the Congo, where sexual assault is rampant and used as a weapon of war, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Congolese youth to raise awareness.

Calling on Youth to Create Change

On Aug. 11, Clinton spent time talking with Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Goma, North-Kivu province. Although she made it a point that Congolese leaders must push to halt violations of human rights, particularly against women and female children, Clinton also "reassured" Congolese leaders that the U.S. intends to establish a "solid partnership" with them, Afrique en ligne reported.

One day earlier, Clinton spoke to university students in Kinshasa, according to Matthew Lee of The Huffington Post. "You are the one who have to speak out," she told the crowd, encouraging them to "write a new chapter in Congolese history." At least 200,000 cases of rape have been recorded in the Congo by the United Nations since 1996 when fighting began, Lee reports.

Clinton is on an 11-day tour through "Africa to promote development and good governance," which has already taken her to Angola, South Africa and Kenya, according to Lee. Next up, she'll head to Nigeria, Cape Verde and Liberia. In Kinshasa, Clinton also met with former NBA basketball player Dikembe Mutombo about the medical center he built there in honor of his late mother.

Background: Advocacy for the Congo

In June 2008, then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice led a debate in New York on the issue of rape as a weapon of war in the Congo. Advocates have long worried about the lack of attention given to the problem, and the fact that 60 percent of perpetrators are believed to have the AIDS virus.

One faithful servant to Congolese women is Dr. Denis Mukwege. A native of the DRC, Mukwege works with rape victims, some of whom are under 10 years old, and most of whom have been rejected by their families and villages. Mukwege says that the president of the DRC and many reporters have visited him between surgeries at the hospital where he cares for rape victims, and have met with traumatized women. Still, not enough has been done to stop the vicious fighting.

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