Rape in East Congo

Whilst the EU is preparing to send its troops to monitor the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the violence in the East of the country continues. Different rebelling factions and the FARDC, the Congolese Army terrorize the population and use rape as a strategic weapon of war. As many as 70% of women and girls have been raped in some areas.

For the victims rape has far-reaching consequences: a girl that is no virgin cannot expect to find a husband whereas a husband often disowns his wife. Added to that the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or AIDS are very high.

The NGO Malteser International tries to combat the sexual violence in an original way. Through ‘sensitization campaigns’ they try to show the population that rape does not only destroys a woman, but destroys the whole of society. In these campaigns potential perpetrators (the FARDC. Rebel factions cannot be reached with these campaigns) stand eye to eye with potential victims and their husbands. The aim being that the perpetrators understand the implications of their actions, that husbands realize that women are not to blame and that rape victims become more able-bodied in coming up for their rights and looking for help.

© 2006