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Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Press release

UNICEF, V-Day put rape in Democratic Republic of the Congo front and center

NEW ORLEANS, 12 April 2008 - UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and playwright and V-Day founder Eve Ensler today announced a partnership focused on ending rape of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They were joined by Dr. Denis Mukwege and Christine Schuler Deschryverha from the DRC.
The announcement came during the celebration of V-Day's tenth anniversary in the Superdome where thousands gathered.

Rape is a weapon of war in the DRC.  Hundreds of thousands of women and children, aged six months to 80 years of age, have been sexually assaulted.

"The goal of the campaign, Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power to The Women And Girls Of Democratic Republic Of Congo is to stop the rape, empower women and girls and end impunity for these atrocious crimes," said Veneman.  

Veneman visited the DRC in 2006 where she met several survivors of rape."These women's lives have been profoundly marked by acts of brutality," Veneman said.  "It is urgent that we work together to put a stop to these inhumane acts of violence."

UNICEF is working with NGOs in the DRC to assist the thousands of women and girls who have been assaulted and raped, many with severe physical and psychological consequences.

Dr. Mukwege has treated thousands of these women at the UNICEF-supported PANZI Hospital. Many of these women have been severely injured as a result of the sexual assaults.  "The program is designed to give these women hope," he said.

"I am doing this campaign because I don't want to have to cry anymore.  I don't want to have to cry when I tell a young woman when she asks me, can I have a baby, and I have to say, no," said Dr. Mukwege. 

UNICEF works in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The worlds largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About V-Day
V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Enslers award winning play The Vagina Monologues. In 2008, more than 3500 V-Day events will take place in the U.S. and around the world. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $50 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, launched the Karama program in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 5000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic Of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. http://www.vday.org

Please visit also: http://stoprapenow.org/

For more information, please contact:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, Tel:  212 326 7452   kdonovan@unicef.org




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