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07 February 2014

Silent No More: Tearfund tackles sexual violence in Congo.

Silent No More: Tearfund tackles sexual violence in Congo.

Alliance member, Tearfund, is tackling sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war zone, where a woman is raped on average every 90 seconds.

Silent No More is a collaboration between Tearfund and the Anglican church in the DRC. It seeks to work with churches and other faith groups to prevent sexual violence by supporting survivors and working with men to challenge violent behaviour.

The Silent No Moreinitiative includes a ground-breaking new study, funded by the Foreign Office's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and conducted by Tearfund, into the attitudes and behaviour of men and boys in eastern DRC.

Christine Karumba, deputy director for Tearfund in DRC said: "Changing men's attitudes to women, and their understanding of what it means to be a man, is key to tackling Congo 's appalling record on sexual violence."

The initiative was launched this week by Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds MP, on his recent visit to the DRC with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He and

Archbishop Justin met rape survivors and pledged their commitment to help churches and civil society organisations prevent sexual violence.

Along with the Anglican Archbishop of DRC, Henri Isingoma, they spent time in the town of Goma where they met women who have survived rape and men who have recently completed group therapy. The therapy exists to try to change the prevailing attitudes which make sexual violence part of everyday life for many.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Simmonds said: "We cannot succeed in stopping rape and other abuses without local people working at the heart of communities to develop a shared commitment to end this devastating crime. Faith groups are well placed to do this. I am encouraged by the important work they are doing. Together we will do everything we can to ensure that sexual violence is no longer a feature of conflict in the 21st Century.''

Archbishop Justin said: ''The terrible suffering of the peoples of eastern DRC is a global tragedy. The most seriously affected are the most vulnerable, women and children. Since my first visit in 2009, I have been seeking to support those locally who tackle the issue of sexual violence".

Archbishop Henri said: "This is a priority issue for my church and for me personally. Ending the conflict in the region is also crucial, and that is why the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches of Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC are working together in the pursuit of peace in the Great Lakes region."