UN envoy urges African states to stiffen laws on preventing rape

A UN special envoy has called countries in the Great Lakes Region (GRL) to make rape a punishable offense, ensuring that appropriate laws are enforced in national courts to prevent the vice, the Times of Zambia reported on Monday.

UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on HIV and AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka said in a statement in Lusaka that rape is still being perpetuated in a number of countries in the region despite the region being in a post-conflict situation, adding that “the governments should take ownership of efforts to prevent rape and conflict situations”.

The UN special envoy said this in a statement ahead of the third International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) heads of state and government summit which is scheduled to take place in Lusaka on Monday.

She said with the exception of Zambia and Tanzania, the rest of the countries in the region were scarred with conflicts, adding that the Human Rights Watch has identified a number of cases where razor blades are used to slice the genitalia of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

According to the envoy, other instances involved women being raped and then shot or being harmed with a knife, thereby mutilating and causing irreversible damage.

She said that these horrific acts have no space in the world and no efforts should be spared to end such atrocities.

The UN envoy further called on authorities in the region to compensate rape victims and pay for their medical and psychological treatment, saying that the fund could also foster support for women to play key role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in their respective countries.

The ICGLR comprises African countries that share Lakes Kivu, Albert, Edward, Victoria, Mweru and Tanganyika which are commonly known as the Great Lakes. The countries include Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, and Uganda.



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