Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Rape still 'alarmingly prevalent' in DRC

26 March 2014, 13:26

Geneva - The Democratic Republic of Congo is working to rein in the sexual violence that has plagued the country for two decades, but rape remains rampant, the UN rights chief Navi Pillay said on Tuesday.

"Sexual and gender-based violence remain alarmingly prevalent, ... both in the eastern provinces and in the rest of the country," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In the conflict areas in the eastern part of DRC, which have been wracked by violence for nearly 20 years, "sexual violence is used as a weapon of war to intimidate local communities and to punish civilians for real or suspected collaboration with rival forces," she lamented.

In her address to a session focussing on how to end the scourge, Pillay noted that the DRC government itself had tallied 26 339 incidents of rape and other gender-based violence in 2011 and 2012 in seven provinces.

Another 15 352 cases were added to the tally last year, Zeinab Hawa Bangura, special UN representative on sexual violence in conflict told the council, pointing to data showing that armed groups committed more than half of the assaults.

"These figures are unlikely to represent all the cases of sexual violence, but they suggest a pattern," Pillay said.

DRC Justice and Human Rights Minister Wivine Mumba Matipa stressed to the council that her country's culture in no way condoned sexual violence, but that rape and other attacks on women were the symptoms of conflicts "mainly imposed on it by neighbouring countries".

Fear of stigmatisation

She stressed that the government had made the fight against such violence a top priority, and was especially rebuilding the country's judicial infrastructure, enabling an increasing number of prosecutions.

The government has gained more control in the conflict-hit areas since a national army offensive, backed by a special UN brigade, forced the powerful M23 rebel group to lay down its arms last November.

But several dozen armed movements - community-based militias, army defectors and rebel forces, both native to the DR Congo and from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda - remain highly active in the east and are often involved in the struggle to control its wealth of mineral resources.

Pillay hailed the government's "considerable efforts" to rein in the violence against women, while Bagura expressed relief that "sexual violence is no longer a taboo topic for authorities."

But the experts agreed there was still a long way forward, with continued impunity and a lack of compensation and reparation for the victims being among the top concerns.

"Our bodies are still battlefields," Julienne Lusenge, chair of NGO Feminine Solidarity for Integral Peace and Development, told the council, stressing how difficult it was for women to seek treatment or press charges in the first place for fear of stigmatisation, not to mention the dangers of simply making the journey.

"You risk being raped again on the return journey," she said.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Advice from a young married Kenya...

I was just going to get water in the office kitchen and thought a simple hi was fine until I ended up in an hour long conversation with someone. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Helping you find the type of man ...

To put it simply, you can’t go looking for fish in a meat market; you have to go to a fish market. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Decision to leave ODM for Jubilee...

The decision to leave ODM for Jubilee is final, an MP has said. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM accuses Jubilee Party of usin...

ODM claims that the Jubilee Party is using state resources to campaign in west Pokot. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
STATEMENT: Uhuru on Mandera attac...

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to Kenyans after Mandera Shabaab attacks leave 12 dead. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Mudavadi set for 2 month long wes...

Musalia Mudavadi is set for western Kenya campaigns.