Kinshasa Welcomes Washington's Support to End Sexual Viole
Kinshasa Welcomes Washington's Support to End Sexual Viole

A Democratic Republic of Congo cabinet minister has hailed United States financial support for Kinshasa's efforts to end sexual violence against women. 

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Marie-Ange Lukiana, minister of Gender, Family Affairs and Children, thanked Washington after her ministry received $17 million to help combat sexual violence.

Lukiana said the money will be used in part to attract female police officers and pay for medical and psychological help for the victims.

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a pledge of financial and logistical support during her recent visit to a refugee camp in eastern Congo where she interacted with rape victims. 

Minister Lukiana said that the money will boost Kinshasa's efforts to end sexual violence against women.

"Regarding the $17 million yes it is in operation and the money is already at the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), and a part of the money is in operation with an international NGO… and in a program named HOPE," Lukiana said.

She said Kinshasa has instituted a program to end sexual violence.

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"The government of the Republic of Congo, with partners, reviewed a national strategy to combat the violence and then in that (action) the government put in place a machinery which is a first national agency for combating sexual violence and we have the fund for the protection of women and protection of children," she said.

Political observers say sexual violence is often used as a tool of war in the DRC where government troops are fighting various armed groups in the eastern part of the country.

Lukiana said her government will preserve the rights of sexual violence victims.

She said President Joseph Kabila is leading the fight to end conflicts in the country's restive regions.

"There is a diplomatic action President Kabila is doing and then we have operation …one and two to sit with the neighboring countries so that we can have peace in the DRC. That is really the main thing because without peace we cannot do anything," she said.               

Meanwhile, the United Nations estimates that about 3,500 women have been victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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