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UNICEF and V-Day step up campaign against rape as a weapon of war

24 February 2009

 

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, warfare scars hundreds of thousands of women and children. Women and girls are routinely raped when sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. Meanwhile, children continue to be exploited and forced to fight in the ongoing violence between militias.

On 12 February, UNICEF helped launch V-Day 2009, the global campaign to fight sexual violence. Executive Director Ann M. Veneman joined V-Day founder Eve Ensler in calling for more awareness of the problem of rape in DR Congo. Ensler was kicking off a five-city US speaking tour entitled ‘Turning Pain to Power’.

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Red Hand Day petition unveiled

12 February also marked the anniversary of a protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that forbids the use of children in armed conflict. In a ceremony at UNICEF headquarters in New York, a petition from children protesting the use of child soldiers was unveiled along with 250,000 painted ‘red hands’ representing young people forced into conflict worldwide.

Along with UNICEF’s Executive Director, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Special Representative for children and armed conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy and Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN Claude Heller added their signatures and ‘red hands’ to the petition.

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Maria Guleghina joins forces with UNICEF

Also this month, the Executive Director appointed Russian soprano Maria Guleghina as UNICEF’s newest Goodwill Ambassador. Guleghina is one of opera’s most celebrated stars, whose humanitarian work includes charity concerts for earthquake victims in Armenia, children in Chernobyl, students affected by the Beslan school killings and street children in Moscow.

“Ms. Guleghina’s acclaimed voice will deliver a truly powerful message on behalf of the world’s children,” said Veneman.

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newsletter photo
© Paula Allen for V-Day/2009

Women at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DR Congo.

VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the UNICEF/V-Day campaign to stop rape in DR Congo.

 

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