DRC: Women take brunt of human rights abuse: Amnesty
Wangari Maathai in Kenya
Gertrude Mongella in Tanzania
Winnie Byanyima in Uganda
Last year, Bishop Desmond Tutu said women should rule the world. Media baron Ted Turner said men have made such a mess of things, women should rule for 100 years. Note AFPs report on the latest from London-based Amnesty International. Here is a copy:
Women and girls faced "horrific" levels of abuse in 2004 worldwide, Amnesty International said in its annual human rights review, blaming widespread rape and violence on a mix of "indifference, apathy and impunity".
From honour killings carried out by the victims' families to sexual violence used as a weapon of war, abuse frequently went unpunished and survivors were often abandoned by their own communities, the London-based group said.
Amnesty said it had sought in the past year to argue that violence against women in conflict situations was "an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and abuse they face in peacetime", notably domestic violence and sexual abuse.
"When political tensions degenerate into outright conflict, all forms of violence increase, including rape and other forms of sexual violence against women."
The annual report, covering 131 countries, noted abuse across the world but highlighted several grave examples: in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), both armed groups and UN forces are guilty of rape; in Turkey, family abuse of women is widespread; in Darfur, Sudan, gang rape is systemic; and in eastern Europe, economic need fuels the trafficking of women.
In Darfur, where a local rebellion sparked a brutal government backlash, Khartoum-backed militias have staged mass rapes, including of schoolgirls, and "frequently abducted" local women into sexual slavery, Amnesty said.
Tens of thousands of women and girls were also subject to rape and sexual slavery in the DRC, and as in Darfur, victims were often then abandoned by their husbands and families, "condemning them and their children to extreme poverty".
All parties in the ongoing conflicts in the eastern DRC have committed the abuses against women, including military and police officers, and United Nations peacekeepers charged with the protection of civilians.
The two African cases were "not exceptional", Amnesty warned.
Latin America had the highest risk of all types of sexual victimisation, according to UN report findings cited by Amnesty.
In Colombia, the group said, security forces, left-wing rebels and paramilitaries targeted women and girls to "sow terror, wreak revenge on adversaries and accumulate 'trophies of war'."
In Turkey, between one-third and one-half of all women are estimated to be victims of physical violence by their families - raped, beaten, murdered or forced to commit suicide - while the country sorely lacked shelters and legal protection for victims.
Amnesty noted some progress in Ankara, with legal reforms that recognised marital rape as a crime and did away with the possibility that a rapist's prison sentence could be reduced or annulled if he agreed to marry his victim. Still, authorities largely failed to investigate most women's complaints of abuse.
Serbia and Montenegro "remained a source, transit and destination country" for women and girls who were trafficked to the West into forced prostitution, while the problem existed throughout the poorer countries of Eastern Europe.
"With clients including international police and troops, the women and girls are too afraid to escape," Amnesty said. -AFP
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"When our resources become scarce, we fight over them. In managing our resources and in sustainable development, we plant the seeds of peace."
WANGARI MAATHAI, of Kenya, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
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