Nearly 200 Women Gang-Raped Near UN Congo Base

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nearly 200 Women Gang-Raped Near UN Congo Base
August 24, 2010 Crystal Huskey

On July 30, 2010, a series of breathtakingly atrocious crimes were committed against 200 women and four baby boys, ages one month, 6 months, one year and 18 month. Rwandan and Congelese rebels raped, pillaged, and plundered their way through a number of villages only a few miles away from a U.N. peacekeeping base. Now, more than three weeks later, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo has no statement to issue about the events.
The rebels blockaded the roads, keeping the victims in and the peacekeepers out. On top of that, there were only 25 peacekeepers stationed there. They were no match against the 200 to 400 rebels occupying the towns.
Many of the rebels were from the FDLR, the group that committed the mass genocide in 1994 in Rwanda. They fled to the Congo, and have been terrorizing the population there ever since. According to the survivors, they were accompanied by the Mai-Mai rebels. Mai-Mai is a term referring to basically any militia based group active in the Second Congo War (1998-2003) and its aftermath. Most were formed to resist the invasion of Rwandan forces and their affiliated Congolese rebel groups.
Last year, 8,300 rapes were reported in Eastern Congo, and many more cases are believed to be unreported. Using rape as a weapon has become shockingly commonplace in Africa. According to the International Rescue Committee, one of the primary aid organizations for survivors of rape in the Congo, “rape is used as a weapon of war in Congo. Armed groups rape to terrorize and control women and communities and to humiliate families. It’s calculated and it’s brutal. The International Rescue Committee is focusing on emergency care, counseling, prevention, advocacy and other support for survivors.
A 2007 report in the New York Times describes the scene in Congo well by interviewing a gynecologist in a Congo hospital. "We don't know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear," says Dr Mukwege who works in south Kivu province, the epicenter of Congo's rape epidemic. "They are doing this to destroy women." According to John Holmes, the United Nations Undersecretary of Humanitarian Affairs, the sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world. That seems to be an understatement. The escalation of rape in the Congo took off in the 1990s, a direct correlation to the waves of Hutu militiamen who escaped into the Congo forest after the genocide in Rwanda.
The problem is much bigger than the resources devoted to it and is escalating every day. The following aid groups are doing work in the region to support the victims of rape.
International Rescue Committee –
Eastern Congo Initiative –


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