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Democratic Republic of the Congo
25.11.10
Events

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

  • Event Date: 25.11.10
  • Event Time: 18:08:00
PRESS RELEASE
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCEAGAINST WOMEN Geneva,25 November 2010.On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violenceagainst Women, The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) calls again theattention of the world to the Democratic Republic ofthe Congo (DRC), theatre of the most deadly conflict of the last 50 years and massivelyaffected by rapes committed on a daily basis by belligerents. The women and menfighting against this scourge in turn become victims of criminals who act withtotal impunity. It was to support their action and make it widely known thatOMCT carried out a mission of solidarity to the country in February 2010. Since then, new waves of mass rapes emerged.The extreme high level of sexual violence against women is used as a ‘weapon ofwar’ in order to control the area with ‘sexual terror’, to break down the families and communities to whom thewomen belong. A woman who has been raped in the DRCrisks expulsion from her home or community. As a woman explains in OMCT’s film‘Indifferenceand Impunity’[1]on its mission to the country ‘One womanbelongs to one man and has a woman been with another man, she loses her value.That’s why it is difficult for a woman who has been raped to reintegrate intoher household: people are ashamed of her and the husband rejects her. The womenare alone, excluded from their family and community.’ Faced with theseconsequences, women victims of sexual torture are frequently reluctant toreport sexual violence out of fear and shame. The lack of reporting by women is used by the DRCauthorities as an excuse for inaction and the torturers can commit their crimeswith impunity. The current climate of impunity is a major factor in thecontinued systematic practice of rape. As clarified during the mission: ‘Rape has become banal and (… ) is beingcommitted not only by soldiers but also by civilians. As no strong actions againstthe perpetrators are being taken, men believe that they can commit rape andother acts of torture against women in their custody without incurring anypunishment.’ The perpetrators of the rapes return to the place where theycommitted the crime and the people who denounced them publicly are now the onesafraid for their security. In the movie it is alleged that the government doesnot cooperate to punish the perpetrated inthe name of peace. The growing acceptance of relativist theories withrespect to the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment in particular,under pressure from arguments emphasizing, “public security”, or “culture” orlike in the DRC “in the name of peace” is one of the problems nourishing the erosionof the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment, whichOMCT considers today as the mostserious challenge ever in its fight against torture and ill-treatment In order to raise public awareness of this problemOMCT launched an InternationalCampaign for the Absolute Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment[2]which is online and open for signature. On the occasion of theInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, OMCT recallsthat torture of women is a fundamental violation of human rights and one whichis absolutely and unreservedly prohibited under international law. In spite ofthe international legal prohibitions on torture and other cruel, inhuman anddegrading treatment or punishment, the torture of women continues to occur inthe DRC as well as in many other countries around the world. When women becomethe targets of torture or ill-treatment, the act often is of a sexual nature.As a result of the determinative impact of gender on the torture, women havebeen denied equal protection against torture under both international andnational law and there is widespread impunity for the perpetrators of tortureand other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed againstwomen. Contact: Anne-LaurenceLacroix, OMCT Deputy Secretary General, Tel. +41 22 809 49 39 We are pleased to invite you to a public presentation of the documentary film “Indifference and Impunity” followed by an expert discussion. The event will take place on Tuesday, 7th December 2010 in Geneva, Conference room Mahatma Gandhi, Maison des Associations, Rue des Savoises 15, 1202 Genève. For any further information/inscription please contact: ms@omct.org
[1] To watch the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCij_APWl-4&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL[2] http://www.omct.org/international-campaigns/campaign-prohibition-torture/
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