from Africa in Transition

Sexual Violence in Congo

May 12, 2011

Blog Post

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Democratic Republic of Congo

Wars and Conflict

Sexual Violence

Female victims of sexual violence listen to UN humanitarian chief John Holmes during his tour of Panzi hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu province in eastern Congo, September 6, 2007. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

The American Journal of Public Health has released a study on rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The findings are horrifying: twelve percent of Congolese women were raped at some point in their lifetime. Further, the report notes that rape is far more prevalent than previously thought in western Congo and within households. The study is gated so you have to be a subscriber to the journal to get a copy.

Not all of the ground covered by the report is new. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (another great resource) issued a report last year, "Now, The World Is Without Me: An Investigation of Sexual Violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo," which also discusses the prevalence of rape within the civilian population. You can read an interesting interview with one of the authors here, which illustrates the complexities of discussing rape.

Unfortunately, most western media headlines about Congo usually focus on rape without much attention to context. However, as Emma Fanning of Oxfam notes, rape often overshadows many other accompanying problems. The regular and systematic looting of villages is a good case in point. Recognizing and understanding the broader context of violence against women (and also children) is essential to addressing the issue.

More on:

Democratic Republic of Congo

Wars and Conflict

Sexual Violence

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