Statistics can only begin to show the devastation as a result of the decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where gender based violence is used as a weapon of mass destruction. About 48 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo every hour, which means 1,152 women raped are raped daily(Adetunji). The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) concluded that more than 8000 cases of sexual violence took place yearly in 2009 and 2010 in Eastern Congo alone(International Trade Union Confederation). The figures showed that 12% of women had been raped at least once and 3% of women across the country were raped between 2006 and 2007. About 22% had also been forced by their partners to have sex or perform sexual acts against their will(Adetunji).
Photo credit (Hear Congo)
The mass violence means there are an estimated 500,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo(Hear Congo) The survivors suffer from a number of health problems, including damage to reproductive organs, fistulas (in the case of women), and a number of STDs including HIV/AIDS (World Health Organization ). The victims are children as young as 6 months old and adults as old as 65 (World Health Organization ). Some of these children as young as 10 are giving birth to the children of these rapists while they are still children themselves; once they give birth to these babies, they are often exiled by their community. Sexual assaults include gang rape (which represents the majority of all cases), rape in public or in presence of family members, rape with instruments, genital mutilation, and forced incest. The majority of perpetrators are armed men or men in some kind of military uniform; this includes armed men identified or unidentified with a specific armed group or the military. In 2010 in the region of North Kivu, approximately 44% of perpetrators were civilians and 49% were armed men(International Trade Union Confederation). It is widely believed that ex-combatants make up most of these civilians who have reintegrated into civilian life without proper rehabilitation measures and who thus continue to have a wartime mentality and continue to commit their war time crimes(International Trade Union Confederation).
Adetunji, Jo. The Guardian. 12 may 2011. 10 4 2015.
Hear Congo. The DRC and Sexual Violence: Shocking Statistics Compared to the US. July 2014. 4 5 2015.
International Trade Union Confederation. http://www.ituc-csi.org/. 2011. 10 4 2015.
World Health Organization . http://www.who.com. 2005. 10 4 2015.
~Contributed by Dallas S