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'I was protesting against rape - I didn't expect to become a victim of it,' Congolese activist says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/8/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sexual assaults remain disturbing fact of life in Congo

Faith, a Congolese woman, dared to speak out against sexual violence perpetrated in her native land. Word reached the local police of the impromptu forum Faith held in her home. Upon arrival, the police said, "You are talking about rape, now we'll show you what rape means!" The police officers then raped her 15-year-old niece in front of her. They then took Faith to prison --where she was raped so many times she lost count.

More than half of the women surveyed had been gang-raped, by up to 10 men in some cases.

More than half of the women surveyed had been gang-raped, by up to 10 men in some cases.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/8/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Congo, rape, torture, beatings, activism


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Congolese police beat her small children with their guns and led her husband outside, who was never seen again.

Faith had organized protests condemning President Joseph Kabila's government for its failure to prevent sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo. The 24-year-old activist, ironically, was not attacked in Congo's lawless east, widely labelled "the rape capital of the world" for its endemic sexual violence, but in Bas Congo, in the southwest.

Starvation never takes a vacation --

Sexual violence in Congo is part of the violence brought on by fighting in the east. Atrocities have been blamed on the nation's soldiers and rebels - but rape is also rife beyond the country's conflict zones, Freedom from Torture said on Monday.

Rape as a form of torture has been routinely used since 2006 by Congolese security forces, including army and intelligence officers in the capital Kinshasa and elsewhere to punish politically active women.

"I was protesting against rape - I didn't expect to become a victim of it," Faith says.

Many victims had little hope of obtaining justice due to widespread impunity. "The soldiers and the prison guards, they don't see women as human beings, they don't see any value in women," Faith said. "I can't even remember how many times I was raped."

The group Freedom from Torture based its findings on forensic reports of scars and injuries relating to 34 women between the ages of 18 and 62 years of age.  

More than half of the women surveyed had been gang-raped, by up to 10 men in some cases. In one case, 68 scars were inflicted upon a woman, 56 of them attributable to an incident of gang rape in which she was also tied up, beaten, and burned, bitten, stamped on and kicked with heavy boots.

Not only were many women raped vaginally, orally and anally but they were also subjected to beatings with heavy rubber truncheons, military belts with brass buckles and hooks, metal rods, whips and electric cables, the report said.

Freedom from Torture has called upon the international community to broaden the focus of its attention to include sexual violence as a form of torture, which has spread outside of conflict zones.

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