Congo War's 40,000 Untreated Rape Victims Now Facing HIV Epidemic
Selva, Meera, The Independent (London, England)
MORE THAN 40,000 women and girls were raped by soldiers and used as sex slaves in the six-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and desperately need medical care, according to a report released yesterday.
Amnesty International said soldiers from more than 20 armed groups, and government soldiers from the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda had taken part in the attacks, some on girls as young as five. Even soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission, Monuc, are under investigation for sexual abuse. In some cases, militias have kept women for several months and attacked them repeatedly.
Floriane, 21, was abducted from the forest and held in captivity by a militia from 2001 to 2004. "It was terrible. They used to beat me on my arms with an iron bar, just like an animal. I can't move my arm now. As we were considered sex slaves, sometimes as many as five soldiers would rape me, and I became pregnant. It was a very difficult birth, because I gave birth in the bush. The soldiers wouldn't let me go and the very day I gave birth, several soldiers raped me," she told Amnesty.
The human rights group said the problem had been exacerbated by the fact that the DRC's one-year-old transitional government has been indifferent to the problem of sexual violence and had made no attempts to arrest or imprison rapists. It added that the government, headed by President Joseph Kabila, had been "far too slow" in setting up medical care and counselling to help the rape victims, who were usually also tortured.
There are only two hospitals that can treat rape victims in the eastern Congo, where most of the fighting has taken place. Most of the treatment for rape victims has been provided by humanitarian aid agencies rather than the government, and even the agencies warn that they are not able to reach all the people who need help. Medecins Sans Frontieres estimates that in some regions, it is helping …
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Publication information: Article title: Congo War's 40,000 Untreated Rape Victims Now Facing HIV Epidemic. Contributors: Selva, Meera - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 27, 2004. Page number: 25. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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