First lady Olive Lembe Kabila led thousands of women on a march Saturday through the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to demand an end to mass rape. The UN said Friday that more than 15,000 people were raped in the region last year.
AFP - Thousands of women marched on Sunday against sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the miseries of war have been compounded by mass rapes.
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About 1,700 women who had attended a week-long forum on peace and development the capital of Sud-Kivu joined in the march, which was led by Olive Lembe Kabila, the wife of President Joseph Kabila.
The atmosphere of the march was colourful and peaceful, and many demonstrators carried banners with slogans such as "No to sexual terrorism", according to an AFP reporter.
"Coming here is important because violence towards women is used systematically as a weapon of war," said Miriam Nobre of the World March of Women which had organised the demonstration.
"We have fought this for years, and now it seems that the international community is genuinely interested in our problems," said Nene Rukunghu, a doctor at a hospital in Bukavu where rape victims are treated.
The UN estimates that 15,000 women were raped in eastern DRCongo last year. Numerous Congolese and overseas rebel groups are active in the region, while government forces are also accused of mistreating civilians.
Date created : 2010-10-17