Sexual Violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
For more than a decade, the war in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has raged unabated. To date, the conflict has left nearly 4 million dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Armed groups roam the countryside and patrol the roadways, looting, raping and killing civilians. The state institutions that exist are largely predatory, and rampant corruption makes a mockery of law and justice. Despite numerous peace negotiations, democratic elections in 2006, and a 17,000 strong UN peacekeeping force to monitor the ceasefire, the violence continues.
Sexual violence has been an integral part of the conflict. Tens of thousands of women in Eastern DRC, from babies to the elderly, have been systematically raped, mutilated and tortured by armed groups on all sides. The Congolese army, militia groups, international peacekeeping forces, and increasingly civilians are responsible for the violence. No discernable pattern can explain the attacks as women from all ethnic groups and regions are targeted. A report by UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Dr. Yakin Erturk, calls the violence "beyond rape," documenting numerous cases of forced incest, sexual slavery, and cannibalism. The real number of victims remains unknown, as many women living in rural communities are inaccessible but the number is believed to be in the tens of thousands.
Global Grassroots Project Manager and researcher Allison Huggins and photographer Lauren Vopni traveled to Eastern DRC numerous times over the course of 12 months in 2008 to investigate sexual violence and produce a short film on the conflict. View the French version of Sexual Violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo or contact us for a free copy of the English version on DVD.
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