Two dozen men in the Democratic Republic of Congo have launched a group to fight for women’s rights in the region, which has been called the worst place in the world to be a woman.
“Women’s rights don’t just affect feminist movements,” the members of V-Men Congo said in a statement announcing the group’s formation.
“The stakes are global. It’s about our common humanity and the future of our society.” The group, led by Denis Mukwege, a celebrated doctor known for founding a clinic for rape victims in eastern DR Congo, was launched ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th.
Its mission is to combat “shameful” discrimination and misogynistic attitudes, which impede economic development, it said.
“Let’s break the silence, let’s change the mindset of our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers, and let’s put an end to impunity and to sexual violence,” it said.
The group takes its name from the V-Day movement aimed at ending violence against women and girls, started by activist and playwright Eve Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues”.
The V stands for victory, valentine and vagina.
The cradle of back-to-back conflicts that devastated the country from 1996 to 2003, DR Congo’s resource-rich east continues to be ravaged by rebels and militia that rights groups say use rape as a weapon of war.
Every day, 1,152 women are raped in DR Congo, found a 2011 study in the American Journal of Public Health.