The Democratic Republic of Congo has been in turmoil for many years as a result of civil wars, disease, famine and political unrest. With this chaos comes a severe case of gender based violence, so severe that the DRC has become known as the “Rape Capital of the world.” According to brookings.edu at times, “an estimated 48 women were raped every hour.” These cases of GBV can be directly attributed to turmoil this country faces. The soldiers use violence to instill fear in communities and promote submission. However, hope does exist and there are many groups, communities and organizations working to stop these heinous crimes.
“epidemic proportions” so much so that there are an estimated “25,000 cases of sexual violence against women and children per year.” They have a solid framework in place, such as first protect the civilians, strengthen prevention strategies, and ensure care for survivors to name a few. With these measures there is hope for this and many other war torn countries that are facing any form of gender based violence. The violence that is taking place during these war times is now recognized as the most serious of international crimes, which is a huge step in preventing and ending current violence. One current movement is the UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict or also known as Stop Rape Now, which according to their website, “unites the work of 13 UN entities with the goal of ending sexual violence in conflict. It is a concerted effort by the UN system to improve coordination and accountability, amplify programming and advocacy, and support national efforts to prevent sexual violence and respond effectively to the needs of survivors.” This is obviously a step in the right direction for advocacy and action toward an end. In 2014 this organization implemented the Three Main Pillars, which include Country Level Action, Advocating for Action, and Learning by Doing. These are three very basic yet difficult steps to cultivate hope and courage in these oppressed people.
A key player in the mission to end the current violence in the DRC is Dr. Denis Mukwege. He is the founder of the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu and a major advocate for the rights of women in the DRC. While treating countless victims of sexual violence he also campaigns around the world to gain support against the armed forces inflicting this pain on his country.
Presented here are only one organization and one advocate undertaking a very intense fight against the violence taking place in the DRC. It will take much more – a joint effort of the people of the DRC, the people of Africa, and the people of the world. The victims, their family, and the whole country deserve to have their voices heard. It is up to us to respond.
Bradley, Megan. “Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Opportunities for Progress as M23 Disarms?” The Brookings Institution. 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 May 2015. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in-focus/posts/2013/11/12-sexual-gender-based-violence-congo-bradley
“Horror of Gender Based Violence in the Congo.” ReliefWeb. Trócaire, 26 Nov. 2007. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/horror-gender-based-violence-congo>.
“Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV).” Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV). Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.unocha.org/what-we-do/advocacy/thematic-campaigns/sgbv/overview>.
“Stop Rape Now – UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Stop Rape Now. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.stoprapenow.org/about/>.
~Contributed By Ben L