Clinton fights against rape

GOMA, DRC - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the use of women as "weapons of war" in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo must stop and that Kinshasa should do more to stamp out rape.

Clinton arrived yesterday in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, which aid groups say is the most dangerous place on earth for women and children, where she planned to meet President Joseph Kabila and United Nations peacekeepers.

She was also due to have a private meeting with women who have suffered rape and other atrocities as part of her goal to raise international awareness and get both Congo and the UN to punish those responsible.

"It is truly one of mankind's greatest atrocities.

"This country has seen humanity at its worst," Clinton, a long-time advocate of women's rights and the first US secretary of state to visit Goma, said before travelling to eastern Congo.

Kinshasa and the UN's biggest peacekeeping force, consisting of about 17000 troops, are struggling to stabilise the east of the vast central African country after decades of dictatorship and a 1998-2003 war.

Clinton planned to raise the question of the illegal trade in minerals such as cassiterite and coltan, which are dug up in eastern Congo for use in consumer electronics such as mobile phones and whose sale funds armed groups in the region.

"I hope in (Democratic Republic of Congo) there will be a concerted effort to demand justice for women and girls who are violently attacked and to make sure that their attackers are punished," Clinton added. - Reuters