News / Africa

Rape In DRC Reaches Alarming Levels

Women like these working in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have never been raped, but realize it's a nearly-daily threat in many parts of the country
Women like these working in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have never been raped, but realize it's a nearly-daily threat in many parts of the country

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

The United Nations refugee agency says it is alarmed at the large numbers of women who continue to be victims of rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The UNHCR says more than one third of recorded cases of rape, in the first three months of 2010, are in North and South Kivu provinces in eastern DRC, which hosts some 1.4 million internally displaced people.

During the first three months of this year, United Nations data shows 1,244 women were sexually assaulted throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo.  That averages almost 14 assaults every day.

U.N. refugee spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, says a similar number of sexual assaults were recorded in the same period last year.  So, the situation is not getting better.

"We do fear that the real numbers, of course, could be much higher because we are aware that many of the survivors do keep silent on this-on their trauma," said Fleming. "We are really disturbed by the lack of justice and prevailing impunity.  We consider sexual violence among the most serious of crimes and should be treated as such.  Survivors should be helped to report incidents without fear of reprisals."  

Fleming says women often are raped when they venture out of their villages or camps to collect firewood, water and other essential means to survive.  

The UNHCR runs camps for 100,000 internally displaced people in Kivu province.  Fleming says the UNHCR is doing its utmost to reduce the exposure of women in the camps.  In North Kivu, for example, she says the agency provides fuel-efficient stoves and firewood so the women do not have to leave safe areas.

DRC President Joseph Kabila has told the United Nations that it wants its large force of peacekeepers to leave the country.  The U.N. force has been in the country for 11 years and is widely credited with preventing some of the worst abuses.

Fleming says security for women in the Congo is absolutely vital.  She says the UNHCR is seriously concerned that rape will increase if measures of security are reduced.

"We do have evidence and hear from IDP's [camps for internally displaced persons] that the presence of MONUC troops [peacekeeping troops] has given them a greater sense of security," said the spokeswoman. "And that in places where peacekeepers are, we do have indications that their presence on patrol brings down security incidents, it brings down the reported cases of rape."  

Fleming says the UNHCR provides rape victims with counseling, medical treatment and legal advice.  She says in a few cases, women have received legal redress.

But, she notes the overall number of cases in which criminal charges are brought is tiny compared to the vast scale of the problem.  In DRC at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence have been recorded since 1996.

You May Like

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid