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Archbishop's message for World AIDS Day 2011

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Uploaded on Nov 30, 2011

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, with his message for World AIDS Day 2011 in which he talks about the part that sexual violence plays in the spread of HIV and highlights the crucial role that the Church plays in supporting survivors of such abuse.

Transcript:
This is north-eastern Congo. It's an area which has been at the epicentre of a great deal of appalling violence in recent years. Peace is slowly returning but not always returning very quickly to the minds of those who have suffered most.

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. 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.

Trauma is something which cannot be overcome overnight but when people feel they've been abandoned by families, by communities, because of the shame and stigma of HIV/AIDS, the church in this part of Congo has been there for them.

For these people, who have been abused systematically, been raped, violated, abducted often at the youngest of ages -- 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.

As we seek to confront the terrible scandal of sexual violence as one of the causes of HIV/AIDS, let's hope and pray that communities like the churches here will continue to fight as hard as they can against the stigmatising and marginalising that so reduce human dignity.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity of listening to the experience of women here -- grateful, though it has been hard to hear. I hope the world will be able to hear what is being said here and to see what is being done here.

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