Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 22

Thursday, June 8, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


Effect of Conflict on Women

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Tuesday, June 6, Senators Pépin, Nancy Ruth and I had the pleasure to attend a fundraising event organized by the World Federation of Congolese Women. The goal of this event was to raise Canadian awareness of the brutal conflict that continues today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The event featured speeches to raise awareness of the issues. The horrifying conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most lethal the world has seen since the Second World War, having claimed more than 4 million lives since 1998.

For women in the Congo, the situation is even worse. Sexual violence is being used as a weapon of control, and women are kept powerless to stop it as they are pushed out of the political process. This presents a tremendous problem. To quote Nicola Dahrendorf in the report Mirror Images in the Congo: sexual violence and conflict:

Sexual violence is arguably one of the most challenging human rights violations to address in peace and security work. There is no vaccine to prevent it; there is no “cure” for its effects.

Girls and women are dying from the violence, and its long term emotional and physical effects are profound and far-reaching.

The deadly conflict that surrounds the women of Congo robs them of all security. This conflict has left families in the Congo completely destroyed. Justice, basic health and adequate schooling are just dreams for many women and girls in the Congo.

Honourable senators, this is what war does to women and girls. The experiences of women in the Congo are a stark example of the merciless conditions that women must live with all over the world. The United Nations estimates that one in three women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime. In many cases, these women are discarded like trash — shunned by their communities, pregnant with children of rape, often carrying diseases like HIV/AIDS and traumatized in other ways many of us here can only imagine.

Honourable senators, for too long the world has ignored the situation in the Congo. Today, we can make sure that the Congolese are supported by Canadians.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!