Target: Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Goal: Protect Congo’s citizens from sexual violence
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict was recently held in London. Representatives from the governments of many nations attended, including representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo has struggled for years to end the scourge of sexual violence, often perpetrated by rebel or tribal forces, as an act of retribution against whole villages and communities. Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, sent representatives to the Global Summit. While much discussion took place, no concrete policy changes or law enforcement efforts have been announced yet. Mr. Kabila must protect the women, girls, men and boys of his country, particularly eastern Congo, from becoming the victims of sexual violence. An end to sexual violence as a tactic of war in the Congo would make that nation an example to the whole world of peace and reconciliation.
In a recent 34-page report put out by Human Rights Watch, atrocities committed in Eastern Congo included some of the worst cases of mass rape committed anywhere in the world in recent years. The organization condemned the actions of both the official Congolese army and militia groups and warlords. They also exposed the inadequate efforts of the Congolese government to hold the responsible parties accountable. According to senior Congo researcher Ida Sawyer, “This widespread sexual violence will not end until those responsible are prosecuted, and the government makes clear to soldiers, officers, combatants, and warlords that rape carries a high price.”
Congo has struggled for the past two decades to end the cycle of abuse and retributive sexual attacks. While the Global Summit is an excellent step in the right direction, further action must be taken in policymaking and law enforcement before the global community will take these efforts seriously. President Kabila, while moving in the right direction, must commit to protecting Congo’s most vulnerable citizens from atrocious violations.
Dear President Joseph Kabila,
I am writing to thank you for sending representatives to the Global Summit on Sexual Violence in Conflict, but also to urge you to take more concrete steps to protect the people of the Eastern region of Congo from sexual violence. Rape and sexual assault must not be used as a tactic of war, by either side, of the unrest currently disrupting the Congo.
I am calling on you to improve the government response to sexual violence, and to enact policy and social change to prevent it in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DrRandomCredit via Wikimedia Commons