The results of the Oxfam survey in the province of South Kivu are shocking: nearly 60% of rape victims were attacked by armed men and more than half of the attacks took place in the victims’ homes.
Moreover, if in 2004 only one per cent of sexual violence was committed by civilians, four years later, almost one third of the rape was committed.
An increase which proves according to the investigators that the rape became commonplace during the years of war in the Congo. While the United Nations is currently discussing the withdrawal schedule for some 22,000 peacekeepers in the DRC, Oxfam warns in its report that given the level of insecurity, it is imperative that peacekeepers remain in the country.
The UN has consistently supported efforts to neutralize rebels linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but according to Oxfam, women are even more vulnerable.
As rebels and government soldiers use rape as a real weapon of war, leaving their victims both traumatized and stigmatized. More than half of the women interviewed by the NGO waited more than a year before being helped-a step that is all the more difficult because a single hospital in the province offers support to rape victims. For Oxfam, it is therefore essential that the rich countries help the DRC to increase its medical offer to deal with the devastating consequences of sexual violence.
The need is there: according to the UN, more than 5,000 people were raped in South Kivu last year.