On New Years day, at least 33 women in the South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were sexually assaulted by a roving militia. This is from Medicins sans Frontieres, which treated the women:
The women were raped on the night of 1 January in Fizi town and surroundings in a coordinated attack. MSF medical teams treated 14 women at the hospital in Fizi on January 3, and 19 the next day. In addition, two severely wounded people were transferred to Baraka Hospital, one with serious head injuries after being beaten with a rock, the other having been shot in the chest.
“Women had been restrained with ropes or beaten unconscious with the butt of a gun before being attacked, some in front of their children,” said Annemarie Loof, MSF Head of Mission in South Kivu. “Up to four armed men were involved at a time and homes and shops were looted.”
MSF provides specialised medical care to women and girls who have been raped that includes post-exposure prophylaxis, which protects against the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted infections. Many women are afraid to seek treatment because of fear of being stigmatised by their families, or the risk of further harassment by armed groups.
“MSF is extremely concerned about the current situation in and around Fizi. People are fleeing the area fearing further violent attacks,” said Loof.
I don’t even know what to say about this. That humans can unleash this kind of horror and violence upon one another is just disgusting.
One of the first questions that comes to mind is: where was the UN? There are, after all, several thousand peacekeepers in Eastern Congo. I don’t yet know the particulars of this situation, but as often the case, there are too few peacekeepers spread out over too large a territory to prevent every one of these attacks. The burden is on the international community to give these troops the equipment and manpower they need to be a more effective civilian protection force. We can’t turn a blind eye to this kind of systematic injustice being visited upon women in the DRC.