Salvation Army in DRC vows to help eliminate sexual violence

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Faith leaders pledge to work together to end sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Salvation Army joined other faith leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Feb. 27 in a pledge to help eliminate sexual violence in the country.

Spearheaded by the Anglican Church in DRC and U.K. Christian development agency Tearfund, leaders of some of DRC’s major faiths met in Kinshasa, committing to take action to prevent sexual violence in a country often called the rape capital of the world.

Meeting of victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Meeting of victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Archbishop of DRC, Most Rev. Henri Isingoma, said: “Women in our country have paid a high price for the instability and cultural attitudes that continue to influence our society. We are called to challenge these harmful attitudes and to share the divine message of equality between men and women, for the well being of all.”

Isingoma, together with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Methodist Church, The Salvation Army and Pentecostal Church launched We Will Speak Out, a new coalition of faith leaders speaking out against rape, tackling its root causes, supporting survivors and working to end impunity.

Much—but not all—of the sexual violence occurs in war-torn eastern DRC, perpetrated by rebel group M23.

“Conflict-related sex violence is one of the major obstacles to peace in the DRC,” said Margot Wallström , Swedish politician and former UN special representative for sexual violence in the region.

A U.S.-government-backed study by the American Journal of Public Health found no woman in DRC safe from sexual violence, and estimated that 400,000 women are raped every year, which breaks down to 48 an hour or one woman every 90 seconds.

Speaking from Kinshasa, Veena O’Sullivan, head of Tearfund’s Sexual Violence Unit, said: “As people of faith we cannot tolerate the fact that rape is endemic in our society. We are at our most powerful when we work together to break the silence, to end the pain, and to shatter the stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence.”

On June 10-13 in London, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will co-chair the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the largest gathering to date on this subject.

Salvation Army leaders in the DRC were unavailable for comment.

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Featured photo via Wikimedia Commons  |  Rape has been used as a weapon of war in both the First Congo War and Second Congo War.  

Read more about the sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo here

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