The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been described as the ‘rape capital of the world’ due to the severity and brutality of sexual violence that Congolese women experience.
Sexual violence as a weapon of war in conflict-torn areas takes the form of rape, sexual slavery and the insertion of objects into cavities (such as knives, rifle barrels, pieces of glass, sticks, wood, bottles and pestles coated in chili pepper). It predominantly targets girls as young as two years old and women as old as eighty years old. Perpetrators of such illegal and immoral acts of violence in eastern DRC (North Kivu and South Kivu provinces) include members of the national army, members of rebel groups and United Nations Peacekeeping personnel. Congolese women’s rights are constantly undermined and violated. This is despite the country’s legal obligations to protect Congolese women through its ratification of a number of international and regional conventions and treaties which promote the rights of women and prohibit sexual violence. The Congolese Constitution contains provisions aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights, including the protection of women against sexual violence.
Despite various pieces of legislation and calls by human rights activists to halt acts of sexual violence, Congolese women continue to face unwanted pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, destroyed reproductive organs, injuries and even death. Sexual violence continues unabated in eastern DRC as a tactic used by various armed groups to terrorise and control the population living in conflict-torn eastern DRC. This mini-dissertation is a cry for justice in that it highlights sexual violence crimes and other human rights abuses faced by women in eastern DRC and calls for perpetrators to be held accountable.
Mini Dissertation (LLM)--University of Pretoria, 2017.