This page outlines the focus of Save the Congo’s #48AnHour campaign, a social advocacy and mobilisation initiative dedicated to engaging parliamentarians, religious leaders, student–led organisations and people from all walks of life, online and offline, for the next 4 months – starting from March 26th to July 17 16th – to amplify and contribute towards UN Secretary General’s system–wide campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women; V–Day’ One Billion Rise campaign and Foreign Secretary William Hague’s campaign to end sexual violence in conflict. We aim to create a greater awareness of, and mobilise public actions to strengthen local and international policies and initiatives that aims to prevent the use of rape as a weapon of war in Congo – which the UN has labelled as ‘the rape capital of the world’, as well as to better protect Congolese women at risk – with their families and communities – and prosecute those most responsible for deploying the rape as a weapon of war.
#48AnHour has been built and formulated through extensive reflections on past and local and international policies and initiatives focussed on tackling the use of rape as weapon of war in Congo. The following pages outline our thinking, strategies, aims and objectives. Comments, suggestion or questions pertaining to this campaign are invited and should be forwarded to: Vava Tampa, Save the Congo HQ, 19 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NT, United Kingdom, or via email to Campaigns@SavetheCongo.org.uk or twitter: @SavetheCongo
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM
For over a decade and a half, Congo has been the scene of the bloodiest and deadliest wars in the world since World War Two; and rape has been tactically used by foreign and local warlords and militia groups in and outside the Congolese army on an industrial scale to humiliate groups or communities considered as ethnically or political opponents, to uproot and drive out groups or communities from rich mining or strategic areas, to subjugate and silence groups or communities perceived as voiceful, or to terrorize groups or communities into submission.
- Between 1998 and 2008, an est. 5.4 million died in the wars and humanitarian crisis in that country; and an est. 45, 000 continue to die each month due to conflict, diseases and famine.
- UN has labelled Congo as the rape capital of the world; an est. 1, 100 women are raped every day; 48 every hour[…] one every minute;
- Some 1.5 million Congolese have been uprooted from their home; and are still languishing in internally displaced camps across the country […] and displacement continues due to conflict;
- The UN has deployed 18, 000 peacekeepers in Congo, the largest in the world but even with 90% of them deployed to three of Congo’s most troubled region: North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, their task amount to patrolling an area the size of Demark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta and Andora combined –– with around twenty hostile and disgruntled rebel groups;
- Though grievances might have been the spark that triggered the fighting that continues to consume Congo, the struggle for control of Congo’s easily appropriable but highly valuable minerals has become the driving force of the wars.
THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEMS
The wars and human tragedy which continue to engulf the Congo has many fathers and many layers. From our perspective, however, Congo’s biggest problem today – the common denominator to all that continue to go wrong in that country in-spite of the largest UN peacekeeping mission in the world, large sums of money given in direct budgetary support and humanitarian assistance and a marathon of over ten peace deals with dozens more regional summit and conference on restoring peace in Congo – is the crisis of governance and legitimacy in Kinshasa. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame’ continued support to warlords and militia groups tyrannising Congo’s eastern population for access to Congo’s easily appropriable but highly valuable natural resources is a symptom of this crisis, albeit one that cannot be ignored.
This crisis manifest itself in four humanitarian fronts which we call the 4Is – Impunity, Insecurity, Institutional failure and the International trade of conflict minerals – which also fuels, sustains and enables the use of rape as a weapon of war as well as the killing and mass displacement of the Congolese people. In short, and in the shortest term, to end the use of rape as a weapon of war in Congo and the humanitarian crisis that accompanies it, major aid donors to the Kabila government and to countries implicated in this conflict need to work simultaneously on those four intertwined fronts. This lobbying campaign will focus largely on two of those four fronts (1) tackling insecurity and (2) addressing international impunity, the glue the binds together the criminal network behind the ills and wrongs that continue to engulf the Congo.
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE
- 2002 — HRW publishes a 114-page report “The War Within the War”, which is based on searing accounts and interviews with victims, witnesses, and officials, details, for the first time, the widespread use of rape and other forms of sexual violence with impunity by soldiers of the Rwandan army and its Congolese ally, the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) to subdue and control large swaths of rich mining areas in the Rwandan-occupied areas of eastern Congo. The report found evidences of how combatants raped women and girls during military operations to punish the local civilian population for allegedly supporting the “enemy.” In other cases, Mai Mai rebels, who opposed Rwanda’s invasion of Congo, and other armed groups also abducted women and girls and forced them to provide sexual services and domestic labour, sometimes for periods of more than a year.
- 2005 — Ms. magazine published an article, “Not Women Anymore…,” in which journalist Stephanie Nolen interviewed a gynecologist who treats rape victims. He explains that militias have trademark methods of attack. Rwandan soldiers tend to gang rape. Burundian forces rape men along with women. The Mai Mai mutilates victims, raping them with branches or bayonets.
- 2008 — Emmy Award winning producer/director Lisa Jackson produced a documentary, “The Greatest Silence,” after spending a year in the war zones of eastern Congo in 2006, during which she documented the tragic situation and the tragic plight of Congolese women and girls caught in the middle of that country’s brutal and intractable conflict – which they did not create, and cannot control. Also, according to UNFPA, between January and June 2008, 6693 new cases were reported through health centres, and 9758 cases for 2007. This indicates a countrywide increase of 25 per cent in 2008, despite slight improvements in the security situation;
- 2010 — UN Special Representative on Warzone Rape, Mary Wallström, declared Congo the “Rape Capital of the World” after a UN report on rape placed the number of women raped in 2009 at 15,000 women had been raped in eastern Congo.
- 2011 — A study by the American Journal of Public Health concludes that over 400 000 women and young girls between the ages of 15 and 49 were raped in a twelve-month period in 2006 and 2007, a time when many experts referred to the country as “post conflict” or being “relatively stable.”
HOW DOES IT AFFECT PEOPLE
- Warzone rape has had a profound, and life-changing physical and psychological health consequences which permeate every aspect of the victims’ lives; and almost every community has been touched by sexual violence. The victims range from grandmothers to babies and include both men and boys.
- Physically documented symptoms of sexual violence include lesions and scars on the body, tears in the vagina and anus, rectal and vaginal fistulas leading to chronic incontinence, dysfunction of the hip and legs, the contraction of numerous sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, and unplanned pregnancies. Whilst frequently observed psychological effects include intense feelings of worthlessness and shame, guilt and culpability, social isolation aggravated by family and community rejection, depression, paranoia, and apathy. Often victims are left by their husbands, separated from their children, and reluctant to engage in normal daily activities.
- When rape results in unwanted pregnancy, victims may seek out unsafe practices to terminate their pregnancy, potentially placing their health and lives at risk. Whilst children born of rape, and their mothers, are also highly vulnerable, and can face a heightened risk of exclusion from the community.
- Some of the injuries inflected on women and young girls so badly that they are unable to bear children. Since 1999, more than 15,000 victims of rape, some suffering from obstetric fistula, have been treated at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu.
- To be stigmatised, or a victim of stigma, means that you are looked down upon by other members of your family or community. This is closely connected to culture and tradition, where members of the culture are socialised in certain directions – shaping their room for manoeuvre
- It enables the spread of HIV AIDS and other infections and diseases; a recent epidemiological study found that there is “insufficient evidence” that HIV transmission increases either during conflict or in refugee populations.
- It destroys Congo’s social fabrics by tearing apart families as well as by displacing communities from rich mining or strategic areas;
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RAPE?
Foreign and local warlords and militia groups in and outside the Congolese army and political establishment
A HUMAN EXAMPLE
In 2011, Save the Congo teamed up with filmmakers Black Jack and Dark Fibre to tell a story of Masika, a forty years old business woman from eastern Congo in a six minute short film. Masika’s family were broken into when their village was raided by a militia group; her husband was mutilated and murdered, her daughters gang raped and Masika herself was first forced to eat her husband’s dismembered penis and then she was raped over twenty times on top of her husband’s mutilated body. She was left unconscious, developed fistula because of the rape and her both daughters fell pregnant out of the rape. You can “Unwatchable – Rape in the Congo” on Save the Congo’s YouTube channel.
- The Statute of the International Criminal Court includes rape and some other forms of sexual violence in the list of war crimes and in the list of acts that constitute crimes against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. Rape and other forms of sexual violence may also constitute other international crimes. Rape would typically constitute torture, for instance, when it is intentionally inflicted by a State official in order to obtain confessions from the victim. Sexual violence can also constitute an act of genocide, for instance when it is an imposed measure intended to prevent births within the group, through for instance sexual mutilation or sterilization.
- UN Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008) which explicitly links sexual violence with the maintenance of international peace and security; 1756 (2009); and 1794 (2010), which urges the Government of the DRC to end violence and bring the perpetrators, as well as the senior commanders under whom they serve, to justice, call on the international community, MONUC (now MONUSCO) in particular, and the Congolese Government to take steps towards the establishment and implementation of a legal framework to bring perpetrators to justice and allow survivors access to justice;
- UN Security Council resolutions 1674 (2006)—(…) reaffirms also its condemnation in the strongest terms of all acts of violence or abuse committed against civilians in situations of armed conflict in violation of applicable international obligations with respect in particular to (i) torture and other prohibited treatment, (ii) gender-based and sexual violence, (iii), violence against children, (iv) the recruitment and use of child soldiers, (v) trafficking in humans, (vi) forced displacement, and (vii) the intentional denial of humanitarian assistance, and demands that all parties put an end to such practices (para. 5);
- UN Security Council resolutions 1794 (2007)—(…) encourages MONUC (now MONUSCO) to give priority to the protection of civilians in decisions, and requests MONUC ―to undertake a thorough review (…and) to pursue a comprehensive mission-wide strategy (…) in collaboration with the UN Country Team and other partners, to strengthen prevention, protection and response to sexual violence (paras. 5 and 18);
- UN Security Council resolutions 1856 (2008)—(…) requests MONUC, in view of the scale and severity of sexual violence committed especially by armed elements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to strengthen its efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence, including through training for the Congolese security forces in accordance with its mandate, and to regularly report, including in a separate annex if necessary, on actions taken in this regard, including data on instances of sexual violence and trend analyses of the problem…
- Britain’s Foreign Secretary: Rt. Hon. William Hague, MP – as well as Foreign Secretary from the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council,
- Opinion makers (i.e. religious leaders and prominent media personalities),
- Policy makers and political representatives (i.e. diplomats, ambassadors and parliamentarians), and
- Users of Social Medias (Twitter, YouTube and Facebook).
- Defines the problem to enable the public to understand what is going on and what is at stake if the problem is neglected. Accordingly, we will run an intensified public campaign, on and offline, that both disseminates the campaign message and facts
- Identify and demonstrate to key targeted audience that there are concrete, constructive steps that they can take to abate the situation. Consequently, we will (1) launch a petition to galvanise public action; (2) mobilise parliamentarians into action; (3) rally religious leaders to push for action; (4) identify and promote ambassadors and patrons (those who have a reason to care and who are ready for change) to champion the cause; and (5) provide strategic, technical and policy advice to create pressure on fatigued officials to act.
- Poetical TV
- Central Media