Thursday, 22 April 2010

DRC - hasty UN peacekeepers' withdrawal puts women in danger

From the statistics in my last posting – about 160 women raped every week in the Kivu provinces and more than 8000 cases of rapes reported in 2009 – you wouldn’t think that Congo has laws against sexual violence. On the books the laws are there though, but the country’s capacity to implement them is near zero.

Since 2003, no more than 50 soldiers have been convicted of sexual violence, although 20 were convicted in the first quarter of 2009 alone, according to Human Rights Watch, so there is slow progress.

However, this progress might be short lived if the U.N. peacekeepers are withdrawing from the country at the demand of the government, as the humanitarian news network, Reuters’ AlertNet, reports. This obviously would make the struggle against endemic rape "a lot more difficult", the United Nations has said. Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, is at the moment visiting Congo, as the world body tries to persuade the government not to demand a hasty withdrawal of the U.N. force.

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