The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams denounced the practice of sexual violence and its role in the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and for countless DRC women who are subjected to the practice of sexual violence - relief cannot come soon enough.
According to a report that was released in June, the American Journal of Public Health found women living in the DRC experience rape and sexual violence at a rate that is just astonishing. More than 400,000 women ages 15 to 49 were raped in a 12-month period.
Dr. Williams in a video message from the DRC has called the eastern part of the DRC “the epicenter of a great deal of appalling violence in recent years.” In the DRC, approximately 1,150 women are raped everyday according to the American Journal of Public Health.
Many churches in the DRC are supporting the victims of this abuse.
“For these people, the church has been the family that mattered. The church has been the community that has given them back the dignity that they need. The church has given them the hope that they need,” said Dr. Williams.
Those at the church are unable to provide victims with medical care as well as trauma counseling. They are trying to work in many of the villages to fight the stigma that sexual abuse victims face in their communities.
“The women in Congo, especially in this part of Congo, have suffered dreadfully because of this. And the connection between sexual violence of this kind and the spread of HIV/AIDS is one of the most shameful facts of our day,” Dr. Williams added.
According to UNAIDS, there are about 34 million people who are now currently living with HIV/AIDS. There were 2.7 million new cases of HIV in 2010.
“The conflict in Congo has made it hideously clear that sexual violence is one of the great tools of war in our age; one of the great means by which people humiliate and subdue others,” Dr. Williams said.