GAA Calls on Secretary Clinton to Speak Out Against Gender-Based Violence During Her Africa Trip

Global AIDS Alliance executive director Dr. Paul Zeitz issued the following statement today on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s departure for a seven-nation tour of Africa:

“We applaud Secretary Clinton’s decision to visit Africa next week and her decision to focus attention during her visit on preventing conflict and violence, including gender-based violence, on the African continent. Violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC) are issues in each of the countries she is visiting; for example:

Tens of thousands of women and girls have suffered systematic rape and torture in Democratic Republic of the Congo since conflict there began in 1998.
Liberia has a culture of sexual violence that is a carry-over from years of conflict there.

South Africa has one of the highest reported rates of rape in the world, coupled with one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

As a U.S. Senator, Secretary Clinton was a co-sponsor of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) in the last session of Congress, and she is thus well aware that gender-based violence occurs even in countries where there is no current conflict or war. Her trip is an opportunity to highlight the need for the U.S. government to coordinate all of its programs to address VAW and VAC, as well as to emphasize the responsibilities of African governments to address the scourge of violence,” said Zeitz.

Worldwide, one in three women will survive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in her lifetime. One in five will survive rape or attempted rape, and around 50% of female sexual assault survivors are 15 years or younger at the time of their attack. In addition, 10% of boys worldwide are sexually abused before they turn 18. In some countries, up to 50% of school children report having been physically or sexually abused while at school.

Violence against women and violence against children is a public health and human rights crisis of epidemic proportions. VAW/VAC also fuels the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both by hindering prevention efforts, including access to education, and by creating barriers to counseling, testing, and treatment services.

“We urge Secretary Clinton to speak out on these issues in all of her meetings with African leaders, and to impress on them the importance of immediately taking steps to protect the health, well-being, and safety of women and children in their countries,” said Zeitz.

Download fact sheet from GAA http://www.globalaidsalliance.org/page/-/PDFs/Factsheet_VAWG_March_2009.pdf

http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/07-31-2009/0005069904&EDATE

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