A consistent issue the region is facing is that of the rampant use of sexual violence as a tactic of war used to intimidate and displace populations. Agreed upon by experts to be an epidemic, the attack on the women (and girls) of the communities is a brazen attack on the family of which, in Congolese society, women are seen to be the backbone. Reports from the United Nations to various non governmental organizations have highlighted this issue but nevertheless it continues virtually unabated.
The American Journal of Public Health published a disturbing report in 2011 that indicates that an estimated 48 women are raped every hour in the DR Congo. The fact that the crisis of sexual violence continues with such frequency is the result of impunity that has been established at the highest levels of government. For Congo to be able to stabilize and rebuild the issue of violence perpetrated in such a manner must be considered a top priority by the international community to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice to break the cycle.
“3. The Panel was informed about efforts undertaken by the Government to address sexual violence, including the adoption of a National Strategy to Combat Gender-Based Violence and the passing of two laws against sexual violence in 2006. The panel found that the needs of the victims of sexual violence it interviewed are largely unmet, particularly in remote areas. The lives they knew have been largely destroyed, and they are suffering greatly – physically, psychologically, and materially. This victimization continues and is compounded by the stigma they often face in families and communities. Their husbands abandon them, and they are socially ostracized. Often this rejection is further compounded for victims who suffer from fistula, victims who become pregnant and bear children as a result of rape, and victims who contract sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Shifting the stigma from the victims to the perpetrators would have a great impact on the ability of victims to reclaim their dignity and rebuild their lives.” Report of the Panel on Remedies and Reparations for Victims of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2011