Widespread Systematic Rape Continues in Eastern DRC
Friday, October 5, 2007 4:19 PM

Widespread and systematic rape continues in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, various armed groups are behind this systematic sexual violence. They use rape as a wepaon to terrorize, punish, and humiliate communities that are viewed as supporting the “other side.”

The UN exposed this pandemic of violence in its June 28, 2007, report on the situation of children in Ituri, North- and South-Kivu. According to UNICEF, 33 percent of the victims of sexual violence have been children. Victims have experienced multiple gang-rapes.  The rapists often insert objects such as sticks or pipes into the vagina at the conclusion of the rape.  This has led to a dramatic increase in the numbers of women afflicted by fistulae.  The spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs have also become a large concern for victims.

The stigma attached to being a rape victim couple with an ineffective legal system has led to a culture of impunity.  There is no effective deterrent against systematic rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Women's status in the DRC needs to be elevated, but creating a culture of respect towards women “will take generations rather than years.”

Compiled from: Hell on Earth - Systematic Rape in Eastern Congo,” Stefan Kirchner, the Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, 6 August 2007.