June 2, 2014

DR Congo Security Officials ‘Routinely Rape Women In Prisons’ – Report

Some Congolese soldiers were convicted of rape in May
Some Congolese soldiers were convicted of rape in May

Security officials “routinely” rape women in prisons in DR Congo as punishment for their political activities, a UK-based charity says.

Freedom From Torture said medical reports of 34 women showed many of them had been brutally gang-raped.

The women – who included traders and professionals aged between 18 and 62 – are seeking asylum in the UK.

Democratic Republic of Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende told the UK’s BBC the report lacked credibility.

It failed to name the prisons where alleged abuses took place, and did not contain enough facts, he said.

In its report, Freedom From Torture said one woman was arrested and raped after organising a protest against rape.

It said another women had “documented 68 scars attributable to torture. Fifty-six of these scars were attributable to a specific instance of gang-rape”.

The group’s Dr Juliet Cohen said: “There are some striking consistencies in the experiences of sexual violence and torture of the women in this report which strongly suggests that this horrific abuse is being routinely carried out in prisons in the DRC.”

DR Congo is often dubbed the “rape capital of the world”, with rights groups saying that rape and sexual violence has become a weapon of war since conflict broke out in the early 1990s.

In May, two soldiers were convicted of rape by a military court in eastern DR Congo, where numerous armed groups still operate.

Thirteen other officers were cleared of the charge.

Freedom from Torture said women were raped by security force members to stop “women speaking out about politics, human rights and, in some cases, rape itself”.

BBC

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