“War on Women” tells of the alarmingly high rate of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country has since the mid-1990s been involved in various outbreaks of civil war. Rape has become a way of life for many soldiers. It is used as a tool for waging war and is perpetrated against women who are fellow DRC-nationals. Victims tend to feel depressed and suicidal. They are often too depressed to carry out daily chores and are often impregnated and infected with HIV by their rapists.
Salomé Ntububa, the Regional Manager for Christian Aid says the country’s laws against rape are in place and the crime of rape carries a harsh sentence but, rapists are rarely prosecuted and act with impunity. Former soldiers tell of how their commandants encouraged them to rape women because it would help them to feel satisfied. An army deserter tells how he and his fellow soldiers became addicted to raping women. Another soldier says that the first time he committed rape he was twelve years old. He says he never realised it was wrong until he heard it on the radio that rape is a crime.
Mama Masika runs an orphanage for children born of rape. She recounts how her trauma when her husband was killed and she was gang-raped by ten men while her children looked on helplessly.
Despite rape being recognised as a war crime of by the United Nations many years ago, it continues unabated.
Why is it so difficult to prosecute the criminals in the DRC?
Watch “War on Women” produced by Irin News and will be broadcast on Special Assignment in our new slot, Wednesday nights at 21h30 on SABC3.