Friday, September 19, 2008

Congo Rape Unimaginable

Forty-five women report being raped every day in South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a report issued by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund. Estimates of non-reported rapes are triple that number. That's why I'm sponsoring the Heart of Diamonds team in the NY Run for Congo Women on October 4. The world needs to know.

The explosion of violent sexual assaults in the DRC over the last ten years is directly related to the endless conflict in the eastern provinces. The fighting involves Congolese forces, neighboring countries including Rwanda, and over 20 independent militias, rebel groups, and criminal gangs. Rape has been used by nearly all of them as a tool of war in the fight to control territory and natural resources.

The near-total lack of law enforcement and a working judicial system in the region has led to virtual impunity for perpetrators of rape and other war crimes.

SCIAF’s new report, Ending Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, points out that many victims die from injuries suffered during the brutal attacks, which often involve horrible physical abuse and mutilation. Rape survivors often have to walk miles to reach primitive health care facilities that are seldom able to cope with the massive injuries they have suffered. Transmission of HIV/AIDS and damage to the victims' reproductive systems is common.

The Heart of Diamonds team at the NY Run for Congo Women on October 4 will raise funds for Women For Women International, an organization that helps women provide for their families by teaching them skills they need to end the cycle of poverty and suffering, providing funds to help them start businesses, and teaching them to protect themselves against the terror around them.

You can help by registering to run or making a donation at Thanks for helping us tell the world about the plight of women in the Congo.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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