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There are signs of positive action to counter the culture of gender-based violence in Katanga province in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
Perhaps the most significant step taken in recent months has been the creation of a new police unit to protect young women and girls, which was officially inaugurated in the provincial capital Lubumbashi on April 21.
The Democratic Republic of Congo's first lady has led thousands of women on a march against sexual violence.
Olive Lembe Kabila headed the rally in the town of Bukavu in the east of the country, where Congolese and foreign armed groups have operated for years.
Last week, the UN said government troops were raping and killing women in the same villages where hundreds were raped by rebels in July and August.
The Congolese government must seek justice against rebel force that allegedly carried out mass gang rapes last month, a U.N. special envoy warned.
A U.N. human rights report claimed members of the Mai Mai militant group along with members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda gang-raped hundreds of women and several men between July 30 and Aug. 2.
Some 240 women, girls and babies may have been raped after rebels recently seized a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN says.
Officials had previously said they had received reports of 150 rapes in and around the town of Luvungi.
The UN mission has been heavily criticised for not doing more to protect the local population as it had peacekeepers based nearby.
An investigation into mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been called off after some of the victims were attacked.
A military spokesman said Col Nyiragire "Kifaru" Kulimushi gave himself up with more than 150 of his fighters, who are also accused of mass rape.
Last month, about 100 women accused former rebels who had been integrated into the army of sexually abusing them in DR Congo's South Kivu province.
A UN envoy last year called DR Congo the "rape capital of the world".
November is hot in Congo. Every month is hot in Congo.
So it's likely their faces shone with sweat when the first residents of Duru, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, raced from mud hut to mud hut with a warning that sounded like, “El are ah!” That's “LRA,” in French or the Congolese dialect Lingala.
The road from the Rwanda-Congo border to Bukavu—a war-torn city on the southeastern edge of Lake Kivu—was almost impassable. Intermittent, torrential rain showers turned the rutted, cratered road into a bog of red mud. On the shoulders, an endless procession of Congolese men and women carried babies slung to their backs and loads of vegetables, eggs, and bananas on their heads.
Allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers serving in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have declined by 75 per cent since 2008, the commander of the force said today, noting that strict measures have been instituted to prevent such misconduct.
The number of reported victims of a recent mass rape campaign by gunmen in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has risen to about 170, the UN says.
Aid workers had been investigating initial reports that about 60 women were raped near town of Fizi by ex-rebels who recently deserted the army
Troops from the same group were recently convicted of raping at least 50 women in Fizi on New Year's Day.
The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has welcomed the guilty verdicts handed down this week by a military court for rape and other human rights abuses committed by national army personnel in the country's volatile east.
A United Nations envoy this weekend urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) authorities to immediately investigate reports of dozens of rapes occurring on new year's day in the country's troubled eastern province of South Kivu.
During a fairly frenetic trip to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week I spent a couple of hours at the Heal Africa centre in Goma, one of several institutions in the region where victims of sexual violence are treated.
The compound was crowded. There was a lot of building work going on and the existing wards looked full.
Tungsten, gold and other minerals used in consumer electronics come from all over the world, but one troubled African nation is a primary international supplier. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) provides much of the tantalum, tin and other precious metals used by dozens of manufacturers in the cell phones and laptops we use every day.
Rape and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are in the news. Like the daily global toll of avoidable death and illness, wars which do not obviously involve Americans, Europeans or Israelis usually struggle to be noticed. However, the DRC media coverage has not been universally welcome.
As his plane cut through the clouds above eastern Congo on Friday, John Holmes, the United Nations' top humanitarian official, looked down pensively at the miles and miles of thick forest covering one of the most chronically afflicted parts of Africa, if not the world.
“It's hard not to despair about Congo,” he said.
The historic presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are scheduled for November 28, 2011. WILPF section in DRC, lead by Annie Matundu Mbambi, has worked for several months demanding the equal participation of women in all aspects of the election cycle and the assurance for peaceful, fair, and democratic elections.
Sam Cook & Felicity Hill
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The PeaceWomen Team