In the South Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo, the scale of violence against women is shocking. According to UN human rights expert, Yakin Erturk, rebels, soldiers, and police in the eastern province are responsible for brutal attacks on local women. Women in South Kivu have been tortured and forced to eat human remains. Moreover, women are violently gang raped often in front of their families and communities.
This year alone, more than 4,500 rape cases have been reported in South Kivu. However, officials believe that there are many more cases that have gone unreported. Erturk stated that “most victims live in inaccessible areas [and] are afraid to report or did not survive the violence,”
While there are 16,000 UN peacekeepers in DRC, many Congolese women continue to suffer from violent rape and sexual assault. Erturk believes that “these acts amount to war crimes and, in some cases, crimes against humanity.”
Furthermore with over six million displaced Congolese people, it is a difficult task for the government to apprehend and punish those responsible for the violence against women. Presently, there has been no formal action taken against identified security personnel who have raped civilians.
For more information, please see:
AP – Sexual Atrocities `Rampant’ in Congo, UN Investigator Says – 31 July 2007
BBC – Shock at Sex Crimes in DR Congo – 30 July 2007
MONUC – South Kivu: 4,500 Sexual Violence Cases in the First Six Months of This Year Alone – 27 July 2007