UN official: DR Congo is ‘rape capital of the world’

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wallstrom is the current envoy on sexual violence in conflict

A top United Nations official has called the Democratic Republic of the Congo the "rape capital of the world". The UN's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, said that the UN Security Council needs to "punish the perpetrators in DR Congo".

Data collected by the UN shows that 200,000 cases of sexual assault have been reported in the last 14 years, 8,000 of which occurred last year and 1,244 of which occurred in the first three months of 2010. The UN's mission has been trying to combat the problem by escorting women when they go to market and working closely with the local officials.

Wallstrom released a statement after returning from a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She said: "Women have no rights, if those who violate their rights go unpunished. If women continue to suffer sexual violence, it is not because the law is inadequate to protect them, but because it is inadequately enforced.

The Harvard Humanitarian Society issued a report in April showing that in South Kivu, an eastern province in DR Congo, 60% of the women raped were raped by armed men. More than half were raped in their own home, and more civilians are committing the attacks than ever before.

Despite the country's war ending in 2003, DR Congo is still plagued with militia violence.