Seeking Justice: The Prosecution of Sexual Violence in the Congo War

Authored by: Juliane Kippenberg

Categories: Human Rights
Sub-Categories: International Law, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2005
Citation: Kippenberg, Julianne. Seeking Justice: The Prosecution of Sexual Violence in the Congo War. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005.

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During five years of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of women and girls in the eastern part of the country have suffered crimes of sexual violence. The signing of a peace agreement in 2002 and the installation of a transitional government in 2003 raised hopes that both the military conflict and related abuses would end. But in eastern Congo women and girls as young as three years old continue to be targeted for crimes of sexual violence. Some have been gang-raped or abducted by combatants for long periods of sexual slavery. Some have been mutilated or gravely injured by having objects inserted into their vaginas. Some who fought back when attacked have been killed. In a number of cases men and boys have also become victims of crimes of sexual violence. This report is based on research carried out in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri during 2003 and 2004, including interviews with victims of sexual violence, relatives of victims, judicial authorities, political authorities, and lawyers. The report draws also on extensive consultations with the staff of local and international nongovernmental organizations and of various U.N. agencies. The names of all victims and their families are pseudonyms, to protect their security.