A leading human rights organization issued a report last week documenting how the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has not taken the necessary steps to prosecute the militiamen and renegade soldiers responsible for raping and beating tens of thousands of women and girls in the eastern part of the country. “Sexual violence has shattered tens of thousands of lives in Congo, but fewer than a dozen victims have seen their assailants prosecuted,” said Alison Des Forges, a senior advisor of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Africa Division, which released the report.
HRW reported victims as young as three years old. In the town of Bunia, Congo, eight to ten people were reported as being raped each day. HRW found that over the past two years, women started to seek justice from the Congolese judicial system but were confronted with deficiencies in the law and the unwillingness of officials to treat rape as a serious offense.
Earlier this year, cases of girls being sexually abused by UN peacekeepers in the DRC began surfacing. The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services found that UN troops paid women and girls food and money in return for sex.