Zambia: 'Protect Women From Rape, Violence'

Addis Ababa — A DELEGATION of women's rights activists attending the 20th African Union (AU) Summit have called on all Heads of State to make stronger commitments to stop rising cases of rape and conflict.

About 25 activists from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, led by Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams from United States, made the declaration in Addis Ababa yesterday.

This is part of the international campaign to stop rape and gender violence in conflict.

The women activists commended the strong opening remarks on Sunday by AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

They said both speeches highlighted the need to end violence against women and stop rape in conflict.

The campaign called on all African leaders to make similar strong public statements condemning rape in conflict.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma was urged to make tackling conflict-related rape a priority as she takes up her term and prepares for the 50th anniversary in May.

Executive Secretary of South Kivu Congolese Women's Caucus for Peace and member of the Campaign Solange Lwashiga Furaha said women on the continent had remained vulnerable to rape for far too long.

"We are here to tell the African Union, enough is enough, sexual violence is continuing to tear people, families, and communities apart.

"Now women activists from across the continent have come to tell their leaders that they must be accountable to the women and girls of Africa," Ms Furaha said.

On the summit agenda is ongoing violence in the DRC and the border conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

The delegation urged the summit to prioritise the security needs of women and girls during its deliberations over action in both regions.

They said in Eastern DRC, women were once again on the frontlines of violence as the M23 rebellion engaged with security forces.

The delegation said the AU and leaders in the Great Lakes Region must take immediate steps for accountability and end impunity for the crimes of rape.

International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, acting coordinator Zuzia Danielski said no African Renaissance could happen while the continent was home to the "rape capital of the world."

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