Talking About a Silent Issue

As the title of the film The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo suggests (whose director Mark interviewed here), the rampant violence against women that has occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past decade-plus has gone severely unreported. The silence on this issue, though, is most damaging in the areas of DR Congo where so many rapes are taking place. Today, the UN organized an event to bring women and girls together to talk about the horrors they have experienced.

The day-long programme in the eastern city of Goma is part of a joint campaign – “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power to Women and Girls in DRC” – organized by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

“It’s a historic occasion in the Democratic Republic of Congo in that for the first time women survivors are publicly speaking out on the situation of sexual violence,” UNICEF spokesperson Jaya Murthy said in an interview with UN Radio.

These are the kind of tangible on-the-ground activities that the UN thrives at bringing to local populations — and which are as important to the region’s emergence from war as the frequently more talked aboutpeacekeeping work being undertaken by blue helmets.