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Sexual Violence Survivors From 12 Countries Gather in DRC

3 Min Read

More than 20 survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in Africa have convened at a forum in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capitaL Kinshasa to deliberate on possible deterent measures against this crime.

The event titled “It’s Time: Survivors’ Forum on Reparations” aims at providing a platform for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence around the world to share their testimonies, perceptions and thoughts around the issue of reparations and of their participation in the process.

“There is nothing more urgent today in our country, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others around the world, than to listen to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence,” says Dr. Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize winner, president and co-founder of the Global Fund for Survivors.

Dr.Mukwege added that the forum is a chance to hear them, “Listening to them would be one of the most beautiful forms of recognition that we can offer them.”

Esther Dingemans, Executive Director of the Global Reparations Fund (GSF) added, “Today we want to listen to the victims, the survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, especially on reparations issues.”

According to her, reparation is currently a right for survivors, recognized at different levels, national, international, but in reality they do not receive it. And one of the GSF’s missions is to change that reality. This involves advocacy with states (which must take responsibility), but also through real work with survivors so that they can speak out on silent issues such as conflict-related violence. “It helps governments listen to them and realize that it is very urgent that victims receive redress. ”

Around 80 participants are expected around the survivors, including representatives of the international community, United Nations and African Union agencies and bodies, diplomatic missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, civil society organizations, experts and academics and national and local authorities.

“We expect a lot from African leaders. What still makes me most comfortable is knowing that this activity is organized in Kinshasa. The dual status of President Tshisekedi will allow us to carry out greater advocacy for African presidents to get involved in changing African history. May we be able to leave these cycles of violence, may our populations experience happiness in their territories and may other nations come to experience lasting peace, ” said Christelle Vuanga, national deputy and president of the Gender Commission of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, this forum which kicked off on November 22, will also enable survivors, activists, experts and other stakeholders to draft the Kinshasa Declaration on the rights of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.