New study shows four women raped every 5 minutes in the DRC

Woman in DRC

Almost every minute of every day in different parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a woman is raped. So says a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health, the AJPH. The study says the incidence of sexual assault is 26 times higher than United Nations figures.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Duration: 2’36″

The study examined detailed household data gathered from women between the ages of 15 and 49 living in the DR Congo.

The data shows that 400,000 women are raped every year in the Congo which translates to over a thousand raped every day, 48 raped every hour and four raped every five minutes.

Margot Wallström, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said the report helps to better understand the problem.

“This brings more clarity to the phenomenon of sexual violence. It also confirms what we know from before and that is sexual violence is grossly underreported.”

The rate of sexual violence quoted in the new study is significantly higher than the previous estimate of 16,000 rapes reported in one year by the UN.

Wallström explained the discrepancy between the two reports.

“We do make a distinction between conflict-related sexual violence – how it is being used as a kind of weapon of war and what is also studied here – which is intimate partner sexual violence and domestic violence. And finally I would say that there is a difference in the way we count because the United Nations also has to verify these figures. When we report, we also should do it in such a way that we can do follow-up, that there is assistance to be given to the victims.”

But the expert on sexual violence also believes it’s time to move beyond the numbers.

“As much as we want to describe the magnitude of the problem, it must take us beyond counting the number of rapes for example. It must bring us into how we can prevent it. How we can do peacekeeping better.”

More important though are the people behind the figures. Margot Wallstom again:

“I remember this young woman who I met in Walikale and she said that she had been taken out of her home the night before she was getting married and had been gang raped and her whole future destroyed in a way. And she was not only devastated but she was also angry. I could feel that that she was also furious that this could be done to her. And she said that a dead rat is worth more than a woman who has been raped.”

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.  

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