Rape as a tool of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Rape as a tool of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Rape has increasingly been used as a tool of war, both in past and recent

history. It was used by the Japanese, Nazi’s and Soviets during the Second World War

(Kirchner, 30). Today, rape is still used as a tool in conflicts in many countries.

However, rape cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo occur at the highest rate in

the whole world. There have been conflicts in Congo since the 1990s and hundreds of

thousands of women have been raped. Many more cases go unreported for fear of

stigmatization and the realization of the fact that no action will be taken against the

rapists (Kirchner, 24).

Rape as a tool of war

Rape is used as a tool to demoralize and stigmatize communities and families.

The conflicts in Congo are mostly as a result of competition for natural resources. Most

of these resources are minerals such as gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten. Armed

groups have found rape to be a most effective tool for displacing communities from

disputed areas. Sexual violence traumatizes the victims and once displaced, have no

desire to return to the places where they were subjected to such atrocious violation.

Rape affects not only the victim but the family and the entire community. After watching

their loved ones raped, the whole community is demoralized and consequently, it

disintegrates. Armed groups have successfully used rape intimidate and control people.

Many victims are sexually abused while their husbands and families are forced to

watch. They often get pregnant from the rape and are rejected by their husbands and

communities. Rape is used as a tactic to humiliate families and communities, cause

terror and force them into submission. The victims are further traumatized by their

rejection by their families and they become more exposed to more sexual abuse

(Human Rights Watch, 16).


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