Why DRC Is Considered The “Rape Capital of the World”

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Why does DRC Continue To Record a High Number of Cases Of Sexual Violence?

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been described as the “Rape Capital Of The World” as the intensity of the cases is considered the worst in the entire world. Human Rights Watch defines sexual violence as “an act of a sexual nature by force, or by threat of force or coercion” and rape as “a form of sexual violence during which the body of a person is invaded, resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim, with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or other part of the body.”

Sexual violence has always occurred in Congo in some capacity, increased numbers of sexual violence coincided with armed conflicts dating the early 1990s. Research conducted about sexual violence in Congo focuses majorly on violence against the rape of women relating to armed conflicts, mostly taking part in the eastern region of DRC.

The eastern region of Congo records the highest rates of sexual violence, which is executed by armed militia groups. Other studies however have shown that sexual violence is pervasive in all parts of Congo and that it is unrelated to the conflicts. In as much as there is broad evidence of the societal and individual ramifications caused by sexual violence in Congo, the government has been criticized for not working enough to stop it. Congolese law criminalizes various forms of sexual violence however these laws have not always been enforced.

Eastern Congo is considered the “most dangerous place on earth to be a woman”. In October 2004 the human rights group Amnesty International reported that 40,000 cases of rape had been recorded over the previous six years with the majority of cases occurring in South Kivu. This however is considered an incomplete count, as the organizations compiling the figures did not access much of the conflict area as only the women who reported for treatment were included. According to estimations, there are 200,000 surviving rape victims who live in the DRC. According to a 2011 report, about 1000 women are said to be reported daily.

A research conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, 39.7% of women in the Eastern Region of Congo were reported to have been exposed to sexual violence during their lifetime and took its form of rape. Human rights charity Freedom from Torture, in 2014, outlined the usage of rape as a form of torture by security forces, based on various case studies from torture survivors.

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