Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Speaks Out Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 12, 2009
Silhouette of Rape Victim at Clinic in Congo

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary | Behind the Scenes PhotosYesterday in Goma, Secretary Clinton met with NGOs and activists on sexual and gender-based violence issues.

Secretary Clinton met with HEAL Africa yesterday and participated in a roundtable discussion with NGOs and activists on sexual and gender-based violence issues. The Secretary announced that the United States will provide more than $17 million in new funding to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Secretary Clinton said:

"[H]ere in Africa we can find humanity at its worst and humanity at its best. And we have seen both here, in Goma. My delegation and I have been working hard, even before we came, to see what we could do to try to assist in the ongoing efforts to end the conflict and the violence that still stalks this land, and to help the Congolese people, who have suffered enough.

I have just come from a meeting with two survivors of sexual attacks. The atrocities that these women have suffered, which stands for the atrocities that so many have suffered, distills evil into its basest form. The United States condemns these attacks and all those who commit them and abet them. And we say to the world that those who attack civilian populations using systematic rape are guilty of crimes against humanity. These acts don't just harm a single individual, or a single family, or a single village, or a single group. They shred the fabric that weaves us together as human beings. Such atrocities have no place in any society.

Amid such abject inhumanity, we have also seen the hope and the help that you represent. We have seen survivors of these attacks summon the courage to rebuild their lives and their communities. We have seen health care workers sacrifice comfortable careers so they can treat the wounded. We have seen civil society leaders come together to combat this appalling epidemic.

In the face of such evil, people of good will everywhere must respond. The United States is already a leading donor to efforts aimed at addressing these problems. And today I am announcing that we will provide more than $17 million in new funding to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence in the DRC.

This assistance will be distributed to organizations across the Eastern Congo, and is being targeted to respond to the specific needs that you have identified, such as training for health care workers in complex fistula repair. Working through USAID, we will provide medical care, counseling, economic assistance, and legal support to 10,000 women living in North and South Kivu, and other areas.

We are dedicating almost $3 million to recruiting and training police officers, particularly women, so that they understand their duty to protect women and girls, and to investigate sexual violence. We will be sending a group of technology experts to the eastern DRC next month, as part of an effort to equip women and front-line workers with mobile devices to report abuse, using photographs and video, and to share information on treatment and legal options.

And we will be deploying a team comprised of civilian experts, medical personnel, and military engineers from the United States Africa Command to assess how we can further assist survivors of sexual violence.

We are raising this issue at the highest levels of your government. I had very frank discussions about sexual violence yesterday with your prime minister and other ministers, and today, in my meeting with President Kabila. I made the point that these crimes, no matter who commits them, must be prosecuted and punished. That is particularly important when those who commit such acts are in position of authority, including members of the Congolese military.

This problem is too big for one country to solve alone. And I am pleased also to announce a new partnership with the Norwegian government to upgrade a medical facility in North Kivu, so that health workers there will be able to provide better treatment to survivors of sexual violence and serious maternal injuries.

Our commitment to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence did not begin today, and it will not end today."

Read more of the Secretary's conversation with HEAL Africa.



August 12, 2009

Gina writes:

God bless Hillary and the U.S. for creating some awareness, intervention, and financial support for the Congolese people. Brutal acts against humanity must end, and awareness and intervention are the keys.
Wishing you luck with these endevors.
Keep the faith.

September 29, 2009

Deborah in Japan writes:

With over 20 years experience working with sexual and gender-based violence in the U.S. I'm wondering what is the best way for me to help this effort? Thank you so much for focusing on this effort as we have seen repeatedly that it is when women are able to fully contribute to a society that true progress is made for the entire population in any culture.

Virginia, USA
September 29, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

The smart choice for women is being able to defend themselves from an attack, using Defense Tactics. Women should have skills that would save their own life! Learning how to use your arms, legs and hands. Finding pressure points on the body that can be used to disable the person who has you in a hold. Everyone in the world is entitled to defend themselves. Example: The country of Spain is a good choice, they have bulls that try and stomp the Matador wearing red. Watch what the Matador does when the bull charges. Learning never stops and keynote always remember travelling with two people reduces the chance of something bad happening. The Buddy System.


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