News / Africa

    UN Panel Calls for Fund to Help Rape Victims in DRC

    A mass rape victim comforts her son in the town of Fizi, Congo, February 20, 2011
    A mass rape victim comforts her son in the town of Fizi, Congo, February 20, 2011

    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, and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”  

    The victims repeatedly told the panel members that health care and education for their children and themselves were among their highest priorities.  They said they could not seek justice through the legal system as they could not identify or locate the perpetrators.  

    The report says victims expressed great frustration because many of the people convicted of the sexual assaults have escaped from prison, while the victims have received no reparation or payments for the harm done to them.   The panel recommends that greater efforts be made to bring perpetrators to justice, including military officers with command responsibility.

    Deputy High Commissioner Kang says there is no way to erase the harm suffered by victims of sexual violence.  But, she says that addressing their losses is the starting point for reparations.

    “While many of the needs are costly and require resources, there are other forms of reparation that would cost almost nothing and have a great impact in restoring dignity and giving some sense of justice to the Congolese women and men who have suffered the stigma of sexual violence.  Public recognition of the harm and public expression of support for them, particularly at the highest levels of government will go a long way to help change the culture that blames victims of sexual violence rather than blaming their perpetrators,” Kang explains.  
    The panel recommends a fund be set up to support reparations as a matter of priority.  It says both individual and collective reparations, in the case of mass rapes, be provided for in the fund.

    The panel suggests the fund should include representatives of the DRC government, the United Nations, donors, civil society, and survivors themselves.  It says the survivors of sexual violence are in the best position to know what they need and how the money should be used for their benefit.

    You May Like

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora