Rape as a Weapon of War

Eliza, 12, stands in the Panzi hospital where she is being treated for fistula repair, after being beaten and raped, in Walungu, South Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Lynsey Addario

Eliza, 12, stands in the Panzi hospital where she is being treated for fistula repair, after being beaten and raped, in Walungu, South Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Lynsey Addario

Rape is the definitive weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and women and children are overwhelmingly the victims. Scores of militias and Congolese Army troops roam heavily armed and unchecked. Some soldiers, spilling over into the DRC from neighboring Rwanda, are former Genocidaires who have lost their purpose at home and find sanctuary in the lawlessness of the DRC, while other Congolese militia members and government soldiers continue to fight despite an alleged ceasefire signed in Goma this January between the Government and rebel Tutsi leader, Laurant Nkunda. Most NGO and U.N.-run hospitals throughout North and South Kivu report anywhere from 100 to 400 victims of rape per month, and this is only the number of reported rapes. The UN estimates that for every rape that is reported, as many as 10 to 20 go unreported.

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