Ending Rape as a Weapon of War

"We don't ask much: that they stop raping us and killing us" Caddy Adzuba

Opinion, by Montse Rafel, director of Dianova International

On October 8, the city of Castelldefels (region of Catalonia, Spain) organized a meeting as part of a series of lectures entitled "Cities, Builders of Peace".  Thirteen municipalities in the Catalan province have implemented this joint project to raise awareness about the initiatives launched by a number of leading figures in the field of human rights, as well as to help supporting their efforts, which often put their lives in peril.

The municipality of Castelldefels received Congolese journalist Caddy Adzuba in the great hall of the Castle of Castelldefels. After screening of a short film by Esteban Crespo, Oscar nominee in 2014, the participants organized a roundtable on the issue of child soldiers and violence against women in African war zones. The roundtable was chaired by Caddy Adzuba and Chema Caballero, a former missionary, founder of an education and rehabilitation program for child soldiers in Sierra Leone and current leader of the NGO 'Solidarity Development and Education'.

As a journalist, Caddy Azduba is above all a witness. A witness involved in the defense of human rights and peace building. Her peaceful and generous commitment to combat violence against women and poverty earned her to be the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award in 2014 and the International Journalism Julio Anguita Parrado Award in 2009.

Caddy was born in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1981. She obtained law degree from the Official University of Bukavu and she is a founding member of the network "A Speaker for the Silence". Caddy Adzuba works as a journalit for Radio Okapi, a radio station of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which broadcasts throughout the entire country. Adzuba is also a member of the East Congo Women's Association, through which a number of allegations have been made to the International Criminal Court and the United States Senate, reporting the sexual violence suffered by women in DRC, a country that has been ravaged y war since 1996 and where an average of 40 women are raped each day since the conflict began.

If sexual violence has always been considered as an inevitable "side effect" of conflicts, the degree of horror reached in some conflicts has transformed rape as a downright "weapon of war" – a weapon made ??to break up families, terrorize the population and devastate entire communities. Caddy Adzuba gave a moving testimony on the situation of women in Congo and the atrocities perpetrated against them. A testimony which nearly made me lose faith in the human being …

An international commitment

We should emphasize that the work carried out by Caddy Adzuba and by a myriad of committed NGOs has begun to bear fruit. As soon as 1995, the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing, signed by a large number of countries, recognized women's role in conflict resolution. Then in 2000, the Security Council of the United Nations approved Resolution 1325, which underlined its concern that civilians, particularly women and children, be the first victims of armed conflicts, as well as the lack of recognition of the active role played by women to bring such conflicts to an end.

Since Resolution 1325, the Security Council of the UN adopted six additional resolutions on women, peace and security (see list below), in particular resolution 1820 (2008) which made an obvious link between sexual violence as a war tactics and issues related to the empowerment of women to put an end to these conflicts.

These resolutions are important steps as they establish an international legal framework for a global commitment to women's rights and to put an end to the violences committed against them. These resolutions attest that awareness is rising worldwide. However, NGOs and civil society organizations responsible for these advances should not lower their guard. We, NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations, must demand that policy makers uphold these resolutions. And we must continue to work to achieve a society committed to ensuring the rights of children and women. We must continue to build a more just society.