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26 November 2008

medica mondiale demands more protection and security for women in Congo

The day before the official ceremony of the Right Livelihood Award Monika Hauser and Lena Ag from the Swedish Women’s Rights Organisation Kvinna till Kvinna would like to discuss together with the Congolese women’s activist Immaculée Birhaheka of PAIF, and Charlotte Isaksson (enquired) Senior Gender Advisor of the Swedish Armed Forces and former Gender Advisor of EUFOR in the DRC on how to improve protection and security measures for women and women activists in the DR Congo.

Rape, enslavement, and murder on the female population ha ppen on a daily basis within the DRC. In the context of the current armed conflict women have to face addition al massive sexualised violence. Our colleagues in Congo inform us about cruel human rights viol ations, pillages, and countless rapes on a daily basis by both soldiers of the government as well as members of rebel troops. 

Simultaneously, many women ri ghts defenders, included our colleagues, are badly threatened because they engage themselves for women who have survived rape and other fo rms of violence. Nearly ever y day we are in formed about assaults from different militias against female employees of Congolese women NGOs by our partner organisation. Only today we were informed that the employee of a Co ngolese women’s organisation was badly injured by an armed group.

In order to secure their precious and important work, the Congolese government and the International Community have to find ways to protect these brave women and their fami lies. In cases of acute life threat – as currently in the DRC – these women do need rapid financ ial and unbureaucratic support to pr otect themselves and their families, and, if necessary, to leave the country. Therefore, the re quirements for female human rights defenders to receive a visa in situations of thread needs to be eased; institutions may show their solidarity by means of invitations.

After the welcome and introduction of the German Amba ssador in Sweden, Dr. Joachim Rücker, the panellist will give short statements and will be availab le for discussions. Subsequently, the gu ests will have the possibility to visit a photo exhibition of Cornelia Suhan. Ms. Suhan visited the medica mondiale partner organisation PAIF (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines) in Goma, East Cong o, in September 2008. She will accompany the exhibition together with Ms. Birhaheka.