News / Africa

DRC Sexual Violence Sharply Rises

Congolese government army soldiers prepare their weapons at an attack position near Munigi, overlooking the front-line, where they are fighting against M23 rebels outside the eastern Congolese city of Goma, Jul. 15, 2013.
Congolese government army soldiers prepare their weapons at an attack position near Munigi, overlooking the front-line, where they are fighting against M23 rebels outside the eastern Congolese city of Goma, Jul. 15, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The U.N. refugee agency says there’s been an alarming rise in sexual violence in the DRC’s North Kivu Province. Fighting between government forces and two rebel groups has displaced thousands of civilians, leaving them vulnerable to attack.


North Kivu Province is practically synonymous with sexual violence. While the names of the armed groups may have changed over the many years of conflict, brutal sexual attacks on women, girls, men and boys have remained constant.

UNHCR’s Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said the attacks have risen sharply in the first half of the year.

“When we look at the number of sexual violence cases reported to our staff for the first half of this year it’s 705 cases -- and this includes 619 rape cases -- compared to last year for the same period where we had 108 registered cases and this includes males. We are worried that the current fighting will increase the danger for the women in the region. A lot of the times the number of rape cases increases with the level of violence.”

These are just the cases recorded by UNHCR teams. Most of the sexual violence is committed by members of armed groups.

“These are militiamen. Some of them are from the Congolese army itself. What these civilians, who suffer from these sexual assaults, tell us is that different armed groups blame them for siding with the enemy. And sometimes it’s just a matter of perception of what they call siding with the enemy. And as a result they are punished by being raped,” she said.

It is in this way that rape has become a weapon of war.

Last year, the U.N. reported more than 7,000 cases of sexual violence in North Kivu Province, up from about near 4,700 cases in 2011. Lejeune-Kaba says it’s difficult to say, right now, whether this year’s figures will be even higher.

“We have other partners that are also collecting data on rape cases, so we think that there will be many, many more. How many more is hard to say for now because we don’t have data for the whole of 2013, so far,” she said.

The Congolese army is battling the M23 rebels near the provincial capital of Goma, and the ADF rebels around Kamango, which is near the Ugandan border. The Ugandan government says the ADF has ties to al Qaeda. M23 rebels are mostly Tutsi. A U.N. report leaked late last year said the rebels had the backing of both Rwanda and Uganda. Both countries deny it.

Since July 14th, up to 7,000 people have been displaced around Goma due to fighting and another 14,000 have been displaced this month in the Kamango area. In all, there are nearly one-million displaced people in the DRC’s North Kivu province from years of conflict.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs