DRC Receives Better World Award for Progress in Addressing Sexual Violence

Photo: Office of the Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment
Photo: Office of the Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment

On June 22nd, Evariste Boshab, Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of the Interior and Security, hosted an event at the Fleuve Congo Hotel in Kinshasa on behalf of President Joseph Kabila, in honor of the Better World Award. The award was presented to the Office of the Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment in Monaco last month, by the Foundations of the Prince and Princess of Monaco, in recognition of the DRC’s progress in curbing child recruitment and sexual violence.

“It is under the leadership of President Kabila that this crusade, which seeks to restore the dignity of women and young Congolese girls, is carried out relentlessly. While great efforts are being made daily in this struggle, much remains to be done,” Boshab said. He noted that the Better World Award reaffirms the commitment of the President and of the Congolese people to continue to fight sexual abuse in all forms. He thanked the staff of the Ministries of Justice and Health, as well as various NGOs for their ongoing commitment, recognizing that they are the true heroes of this fight.

The President’s Deputy Chief of Staff in Charge of Political and Administrative Affairs, Jean Pierre Kambila Kankonde, said that the President’s vision to bring a modern revolution to the DRC could not be realized without supporting the rights and dignity of Congolese women and girls, which led President Kabila to appoint Jeanine Mabunda to serve as his Personal Representative on these issues in 2014.

During the event, Mabunda recognized the DRC’s many advances in addressing sexual violence, while highlighting that progress is still fragile and that many challenges remain. Reports from the UN Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, led by Zainab Bangura, indicate a 50% reduction of cases of sexual violence in the DRC from 2014 to 2015.

“The world is recognizing our progress on the ground and our commitment to this fight. But this success is not mine alone, it is a shared success, complimentary to our shared responsibility to create a better world. Together we are stronger, and we will only succeed with the ongoing commitments of government, of civil society, NGOs, religious leaders, and of international donors and stakeholders. I would like to take this opportunity, before you all today, to call for consensus and cooperation but also to share the honor of this award with the DRC as a nation, with President Kabila, and particularly with all of you, the everyday heroes in this crusade.” –Jeanine Mabunda

Several domestic and international NGOs attended the ceremony. Beatrice Dive, Coordinator of the Association des Mamans anti Buaki (AMAB), traveled over 1,000 miles from Bunia, near the Ugandan border, to participate in the event. She discussed their ongoing partnership with the Office of the Personal Representative, which has supported the economic empowerment of survivors of sexual violence in Ituri province through programs which support microfinancing and entrepreneurship.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Diene Kieta congratulated Mabunda for her tenacity and drive to advance the fight against sexual violence. “The DRC has made several advances in the fight against sexual violence, but many challenges remain. I encourage not only the Office of the Personal Representative, but the DRC as a whole to continue to wage this common battle that we all lead,” Kieta said.

Major Bora Uzima, President of the Rutshuru Military Court, recognized the military justice system’s close coordination with the Office of the Personal Representative which has supported the implementation of mobile court systems. “Their support has enabled us to employ mobile courts, helping us to fight impunity and reduce incidents of sexual violence in North Kivu,” Uzima said.

From 2013 to 2015, over 46,000 children were removed from the military and from armed groups in the DRC and 246 military convictions were secured for perpetrators of sexual violence. Recently, the DRC became the first host country to prosecute soldiers accused of committing sexual violence in the Central African Republic while serving with the UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA.

In 2014, President Joseph Kabila appointed Jeanine Mabunda to serve as Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. Over the past two years, her office has worked to fight impunity, resource civilian and military justice systems, provide critical services to victims, empower women and girls, and mobilize society to stop sexual violence in the DRC. Jeune Afrique magazine has named her one of the 50 most influential African women. In May 2016 she was presented with the Better World Award in Monaco for her ongoing humanitarian work. 

Source: Office of the Personal Representative in Charge of the Fight against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment

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