The War Against Women in DR Congo
Thursday, January 24, 2008 12:08 PM

The war that has been raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has claimed more lives than any conflict since World War II. The most frequent and direct targets are women.  The weapon used is rape. The goal of the violence is to instill terror, assert power, and destroy communities.


CBS correspondent Anderson Cooper and a team from the show 60 Minutes, went to Congo and interviewed NGO workers, victims, and many others to get a sense of the crisis. One researcher stated that rape is now the norm. The scale, brutality, and systematic nature of the sexual violence makes it more than rape in a time of war—rather it is rape as a weapon of war. Families are lined up to watch and participate in the rape of their mothers, daughters, and sisters. The extent of injuries experienced by survivors is life changing. The risk of HIV and fears of contracting it are high. Unwanted pregnancies are common. Few cases ever go to court, and one human rights investigator described the Congo’s justice system as “on its knees.”


There are organizations, such as Women for Women, trying to help survivors of rape attain some healing and even opportunities for a better life. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been uprooted from their homes, some live in UN camps, and rely on UN and NGOs for basic survival. The UN has dispatched its largest peacekeeping operation in history to the Congo.


Compiled from:War Against Women: The Use of Rape as a Weapon in Congo’s Civil War,” CBS News, 13 January 2008.