DR Congo: Harvard Study Reveals More on Rape Crisis
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 10:15 AM

A recent study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative entitled “Now, The World Is Without Me” reports statistics and evidence of trends concerning the rape crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The study, commissioned by Oxfam America, conducted interviews of 4,311 rape victims over a four-year period who received treatment at the Panzi hospital in the South Kivu Province. 

According to the information gathered in the interviews, 56 percent of assaults were carried out in the family home by armed men, 16 percent in fields, and 15 percent in the forest.  Of these assaults, 60 percent were gang rapes by armed men and 57 percent had taken place at night.  Furthermore, the study revealed that only 12 percent of women had come to the Panzi hospital within a month of being assaulted to receive treatment.  This delay is related to the stigma surrounding rape in the DRC and the limited access to Panzi’s medical facility. 

The study also found a correlation between rape and military activities and an increase in the number of rapes carried out by civilians.  The report found that incidence of rape increased during military activities.  Moreover, the study reported that civilian rape had experienced a 17-fold increase between 2004 and 2008.  This has led experts to believe that a normalization of rape among the civil population has occurred which consequently results in the breakdown of social mechanisms which protect civilians from sexual violence.   

The study also provided recommendations, including ensuring that quality care is widely available, reducing sexual violence linked to military action, building legal/justice initiatives, and seeing that protective deployments are tailored to local realities. 

Compiled From: "New report shows shocking pattern of rape in eastern Congo."  Oxfam International (15 April 2010).  "Now, the world is without me - An investigation of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo."  Oxfam International (April 2010).