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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora