Statement by the Congolese Survivor Movement on the arrest of peaceful protesters

Confronted with women and girls held in sexual slavery in the Kasaï region, Congolese authorities turn a blind eye on the situation and silence protesters.   

In December 2017, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) confirmed the abduction of 66 people – 2 women, 49 girls and 15 boys – in the Kasaï province. While some of the persons have been released in the meantime, many still remain in captivity. However, the government is refusing to acknowledge the crisis, as became evident through the words of the Minister for Human Rights, who claimed on Radio France Internationale that “no woman is held hostage as a sex slave”.

On Monday, July 30th 2018, members of grassroots movements marched in the city of Kinshasa to publicly denounce this horrendous situation and invoke the release of the women held in captivity. During the demonstration, around forty protesters were brutally arrested and kept into police custody overnight.

In the name of all survivors of rape and sexual violence in the DRC, we wish to express our outrage about this situation: not only does the government turn a blind eye on the conditions of the women who are currently held in sexual slavery, but it ostensibly censures the voice of those who have the courage to stand up for them. The Survivor Movement asks the Congolese government to take all necessary steps to ensure the release of these women and the protection of their rights, in order to enable them to finally put an end to this nightmare and go back to their families.

Our thoughts go to all the victims and their loved ones. As survivors who have experienced similar atrocities ourselves, we know how much pain you are enduring. Until you can finally break free, we send you strength and courage.

(Bukavu, 3 August 2018)