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

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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs