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Upon independence in 1960, the former colony of French Congo became the Republic of the Congo.
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.
Multi-party elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in the 1997 Republic of the Congo Civil War and President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who first came to power in 1979, has ruled for 33 of the past 38 years.
The political stability and development of hydrocarbon production made the Republic of the Congo the fourth largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, providing the country with a degree of prosperity despite instability in some areas and unequal distribution of oil revenue nationwide.
The military conflict has increased the incidence of child marriage by creating a climate where sexual violence is widespread and there is limited rule of law and impunity for perpetrators.