Statement by the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women.International Human Rights Day
The Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, a diverse group of leaders from many nations, including Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the Philippines, Ukraine, and the United States, is deeply concerned about the brutal epidemic of rape and sexual aggression currently being used as a tool of war against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Global Fund for Women sees this as an ongoing crime against humanity and we stand in solidarity with other human rights organizations as we call for an end to the violence and immediate action by the international community.
As Africa’s third most populous country and the key supplier of strategic minerals to much of the industrialized world, the well-being of Congolese people should be of concern globally. Instead, the world has stood by as four million people have died due to war and starvation over the last 10 years. Almost half a million women have been raped and tortured and now are rejected by their communities. Wars and conflict adversely affect all people, but disproportionately hurt women and children. They are most likely to suffer physical harm, including sexual violence, as a consequence of military action. They are also the most likely to become refugees as they flee from weapons that mutilate, maim and kill. An estimated 3 million have already been displaced in conflicts in Congo.
Remarkably, as they did in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, it is women themselves who are taking the lead in transforming this unacceptable state of affairs. Civil society organizations led by women are building local peace committees and unmasking the flow of weapons into their communities. They are brave and determined, but they need our support.
As leaders of an international women’s fund that supports women and children in over 160 countries, we make the following demands:
- We demand an end to impunity for the perpetrators of this crime.
- We demand that the international community exercise its leadership by ending the flow of arms coming from the United States, Russia, and France into Congo and Central Africa.
- We demand the United Nations be true to its mandate to protect Congolese populations currently under threat by armed groups.
- We demand that the Congolese government be held to the highest standards of accountability with regard to ensuring the safety of all its citizens, particularly women and children.