Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, on sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

The reported gang-rape of at least 179 women and girls in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) must serve as an urgent call to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Egregious violations of human rights, including rape and sexual violence, have become endemic in the DRC. UNICEF is aware of some eighteen thousand survivors of sexual violence in DRC who sought assistance in 2009 alone, including 11,855 who required critical medical assistance. It is highly likely that many more attacks have gone unreported.

The suffering caused by sexual violence does not end with the assault. Many survivors carry physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives. And sexual violence also has a profound impact on families, communities and society, reinforcing a culture of violence.

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