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Britain Launches Plan To Fight Use Of Rape As Weapon Of War In DRC

On a trip to Goma, “in the violent south-eastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC],” British Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the U.K.’s plan to help tackle rape as a weapon of war, “announcing £180 million [$272 million] in new funding for the DRC health system, some of which will go to training medical staff to give proper care for rape victims,” The Guardian reports. “The DRC, after decades of conflict and turmoil is just one of the world’s battlefields where the routine sexual abuse of women and girls is a weapon of war,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The British government will attempt to break the official silence over the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war by taking the unusual step of using its presidency of the G8 this year to put it at the heart of the agenda of the rich nations’ club that has in recent years been preoccupied with economic woes.”

“As well as the money pledged to support the DRC health system, Hague also announced £850,000 [$1.28 million] in support for an advocacy group called Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice to help it document cases in eastern DRC and push the international criminal court (ICC) to take heed of sexual crimes in its deliberations,” The Guardian notes, adding, “Other funding will go to Physicians for Human Rights, another [non-governmental organization (NGO)], for evidence collection equipment such as locked evidence cabinets for eventual prosecutions” (Borger, 3/26). In a separate article, The Guardian reports that Hague and actor Angelina Jolie, a U.N. special envoy for refugee issues, are in DRC “meeting rape survivors, women’s groups and doctors to publicize the effort before putting it on the G8 agenda this year” (Borger, 3/27).