Women have also been particularly victimized through the sexual violence that has been committed on a massive scale particularly against women and girls since the outbreak of the war.
The consequences of the high rates of sexual violence are both numerous and dire: survivours of rape (mostly women and girls) suffer community rejection and stigmatization, high HIV/AIDS infection rates, and extensive physical and psychological injuries.
In addition to this, women and their families encounter difficulty providing for basic subsistence, as womens’ increased fear of sexual violence hinders them from working in the fields, gathering firewood, and fetching water.
Important to see the context
The sexual violence committed in the DRC must be seen in context of various factors, such as:
- Women's subordinate position in society;
- A certain type of macho masculinity reproduced in the DRC - as most other militarized contexts;
- The widespread impunity which is manifested in a general normalisation of sexual violence;
- Traumas created through the over ten year long conflict especially among present and former child soldiers who often themselves have been victims of terrible acts of violence;
- The feelings of frustration and anger among the national police and soldiers who live and fight under very difficult conditions, often without salaries, food or other support;
- Deteriorating civil-military relations.
Kezia survived the genocide in Rwanda, but she was raped and her family was murdered. Kezia fled to DRC and Diakonias partner Groupe Jérémie helped her to an orphanage. Today Kezia is studying at university and prays for a bright future. Photo: Diakonia