Menu

Rape As A Weapon

Vanessa Hradsky Sep 2

Rape has become a defining characteristic of the war in the DRC, as has the mutilation of victims. In the Congo, rape is a cheaper weapon of war than bullets; some 60 percent of all combatants in the DRC are HIV+, leaving countless women and girls infected and traumatized. The rapes are often so violent that they leave the women not only traumatized and stigmatized by society, but often also unable to bear children. In effect, an entire generation is lost, while the other is left battered. In a March 8, 2004 article from The Nation, Trevor Lowe, spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, said that “the nature of sexual violence in the DRC conflict is grotesque, completely abnormal. Babies, children, women – nobody is being spared. For every woman speaking out, there are hundreds who’ve not yet emerged from the hell. Rape is so stigmatized in the DRC, and people are afraid of reprisals from rebels. It’s a complete and utter breakdown of norms. Like Rwanda, only worse.” His colleague Christiane Berthiaume added, “Never before have we found as many victims of rape in conflict situations as we are discovering in the DRC.”