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Rape in the Congo

 
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Rape is a weapon of war, and the five-year conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is not only proof of that, but is also a testimony as to how horrifying it can be.

According to Tiare Rath, of Womensenews, as many as 3,000 women in an area called Shabunda, were raped between 1999 and 2001, by tribal Mayi-Mayi fighters.

Some of the women who had been raped managed to escape to other towns and cities, and reported being sexually violated along the way by rival militias.

Juliane Kippenberg, is co-author of a Human Rights Watch report titled “The War Within the War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo,” which was released last year. She said the following, “All different rebel groups fighting in the area have made terror against civilians their way of fighting the war and sexual violence is part of that.”

Historical background of this war consists of the fact that Rwanda and Uganda invaded eastern Congo in 1998, to protect their borders from militias – some of these militias were involved in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, before they fled to the DRC. Rwanda, Uganda, and other African nations allied with the DRC, pulled out most of their troops with a peace agreement, but the area is still terribly dangerous.

Rath reports that the war between neighboring countries, militias, and rebel groups in half of the DRC has “devastated the civilian population.” Fighting over the mineral wealth is cited as a major reason for this conflict.

International relief agencies found sexual violence so widespread in the area that they set up crisis and follow up medical care for victims. Normally these agencies provide food and medical supplies. Doctors Without Borders has one of the largest organizations there.

Claudine Mwa Mulegwa, head of a non-governmental organization that supports mothers and children in an area called Bukavu, said, “Women and children have suffered the most in this conflict. They’re not protected.”

It is a well known fact that widespread rape is going on, according to Karin Wachter of the International Rescue Committee’s sexual and gender based violence project.

Add a Comment2 Comments

I did check out your photo essay and found it very beautiful and very moving. It is really a great piece of work that should be shown as widely as possible. When I looked into the children's innocent faces I could not help but feel that they have been so betrayed, and at such a tender age. I hope that a ton of world pressure, and exposure of these brutalites, will end the war.
Anna

October 1, 2009 - 2:13pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm glad to see this issue hitting the airwaves. Actually, Sec. Hillary Clinton was just able to secure new language from the UN regarding sexual violence after her trip to Goma, which is in North Kivu province. I hope you'll check out my photo essay, "Why Congo Matters" http://vimeo.com/6284324

October 1, 2009 - 11:49am
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