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Although the Mobutu regime paid lip service to the important role of women in society, and although women enjoy some legal rights (e.g., the right to own property and the right to participate in the economic and political sectors), custom and legal constraints still limit their opportunities.
The inferiority of women has always been embedded in the indigenous social system and reemphasized in the colonial era.
Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not attained a position of full equality with men, with their struggle continuing to this day.
Besides war rape in Congo's civil wars, there are other serious threats to women's physical well-being in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), while not widespread, exists among some populations in northern parts of the DRC.
By the 1990s, women had made strides in the professional world, and a growing number of women now work in the professions, government service, the military, and the universities.
But they remain underrepresented in the formal work force, especially in higher-level jobs, and generally earn less than their male counterparts in the same jobs.
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Otherwise they were presumed to be femmes libres (free women) and were taxed as income-earning prostitutes, whether they were or not.