Mass Rapes of Civilians in DR of Congo
by Todd Pitman
The number of rapes carried out by civilians in eastern Congo has increased by 17-fold in the last few years, according to a study released Thursday that says sexual assaults long perpetrated by armed groups are spreading across the population.
DAKAR, Senegal —The number of rapes carried out by civilians in eastern Congo has increased by 17-fold in the last few years, according to a study released Thursday that says sexual assaults long perpetrated by armed groups are spreading across the population.
The study, commissioned by the British aid group Oxfam, was carried out by experts from Harvard University and examined more than 4,000 cases from 2004 to 2008 at the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu.
Armed groups – including the army and Congolese and Rwandan militias – have raped tens of thousands of women in the war-ravaged nation, and are still feared by the population. But the research found that 38 percent of rapes were committed by civilians in 2008, compared to less than 1 percent in 2004.
“This study confirms what has only been reported anecdotally until now: Sexual violence has become more normal in civilian life,” said Susan Bartels, chief researcher from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. “The scale of rape over Congo’s years of war has made this crime seem more acceptable.”
Violence first erupted in Congo after the 1994 Rwandan genocide spilled war across the border. U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in the vast nation since 1999 to help stabilize it, but thousands are raped each year and sporadic fighting has continued.
Congo President Joseph Kabila has asked the U.N. to draw up a schedule to withdraw its 20,000 peacekeeping mission by 2011, though some senior diplomats and U.N. officials have said they are reluctant to do so. A U.N. Security Council delegation is due in Congo later this week. – More here.
Previous related news:
2005: Not Women Anymore
Girl, 9, details rape in Congo to photographer
by Wayne Drash
8/11/2009/8:41 A.M. EDT
The young girl whispered in a hushed tone. She looked down as she spoke, only glancing up from her dark round eyes every now and then. She wanted to tell more, but she was too ashamed. She was just 9 years old when, she says, Congolese soldiers gang-raped her on her way to school.
“These two soldiers nabbed her, put a bag over her head and pulled her into the bushes. She explains it as, ‘They got me,’ ” says Sherrlyn Borkgren, who spent a month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo late last year.
Borkgren, a wedding photographer and freelance journalist, traveled to the war-torn region of eastern Congo after being awarded the ShootQ Grant, a $10,000 award to free photographers from everyday life to pursue a project that raises awareness of an important global issue.
Borkgren pauses when she speaks of meeting the girl. “She was obviously very traumatized to repeat this out loud, and I don’t think she had repeated it to anyone.” The young girl lied to her about her age when they first spoke.
“She said she was 15 when she was raped,” Borkgren says. “I figured she probably wanted to say she was 15 because it’s more acceptable than to say, ‘I was 9 when they raped me.’ ”
The United Nations estimates 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo over the last 12 years, when war broke out with Rwanda and Uganda backing Congolese rebels seeking to oust then-Congo President Laurent Kabila. Rape became a weapon of war, aid groups say. – More here.
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Congo colonel gets 20 years for rape
by Katrina Manson in Nairobi
An army lieutenant-colonel in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering his troops to attack and rape a community – a landmark conviction of a commanding officer.
Analysts say the judgment signals that the country may be backing a new legal tack to combat widespread rape, for which few have been held accountable.
Lt-Col Kibbi Mutware, a former rebel who has since been integrated into the national army, was found guilty of crimes against humanity for sending his troops to rape, beat up and loot from the population of Fizi, in South Kivu province, on New Year’s Day. The court also dismissed him from the army along with eight of his men.
Since Margot Wallström, the United Nations’ special representative on sexual violence, called Congo “the rape capital of the world” last year, hundreds more have been raped in a spate of violent attacks. – Source
UN Panel Calls for Fund to Help Rape Victims in DRC
Lisa Schlein | Geneva March 03, 2011
A mass rape victim comforts her son in the town of Fizi, Congo, February 20, 2011
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Africa’s Gays Say They’re ‘Under Siege’
A high-level panel on victims of sexual violence is calling for the establishment of a reparation fund for thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A new United Nations report finds that rape victims suffer from stigmatization, lack of medical and psychological care and are given little or no access to justice.
The 55-page report finds victims of sexual violence in the DRC are victimized by those who rape them and by the society that spurns them because they have been violated.
The three members of a special high-level panel appointed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights heard the testimonies of 61 survivors of sexual violence. The victims range in age from three years to 61 years, including four male victims.
During the course of a 17-day field visit, the panel went to seven locations in three different provinces in eastern DRC and to the capital, Kinshasa.
U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, a member of the panel, says the lives of the rape victims have been largely destroyed by their experiences.
“This victimization is compounded by the stigma they often face in families and communities. Rejected by their husbands and socially ostracized,” Kang said. “Victims of sexual violence are left to fend for themselves, often living on the streets. Their stigmatization is further compounded by fistula, pregnancy resulting from rape – More here
Despite all the massive amounts of evil I’ve been reporting on, about two days ago, the heretic and false Christian teacher Ian Punnet emphatically argued with a caller that the world wasn’t any worse than in the past and was okay. What an idiot. Everyone who trusts in that man should be ashamed and turn to God for forgiveness.