(Kinshasa/Brussels 26 October 2004) With the release today of a new Amnesty International report on the systematic rape and torture of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the human rights organisation is appealing to EU development ministers meeting in the Netherlands to ensure EU aid to the DRC is used to help rape survivors.
Amnesty International's report: "Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mass Rape - Time for Remedies" (available see links at end of page) documents cases of brutal sexual violence and highlights the lack of effective access to adequate medical care in the DRC as one of the most pressing needs of survivors of rape.
"The European Union is the principal aid donor in the DRC and therefore has a big influence on how money is spent. We call on EU ministers who are today discussing issues such as health, reproductive rights and HIV/aids, to ensure that the provision of medical care for rape survivors is prioritized as part of EU aid to the DRC," Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International's EU Office said.
"This is an opportunity for the EU to make a real difference to the tens of thousands of women, girls and children who are victims of some of the most widespread and brutal instances of rape ever seen in a conflict situation," he said.
Amnesty International's report outlines how women, girls, children and even babies, as well as men have been systematically raped and tortured in eastern DRC where over twenty armed groups have been fighting for control of the land and its resources.
Some of the victims have suffered multiple rapes and other forms of sexual violence on two or three separate occasions during the war by different forces. Others have been raped by up to twenty-five combatants or used for months or years as sex slaves. The rapes are often accompanied by sexual torture with, for example, bayonets, sharpened-sticks inserted into the woman’s vagina or even gunshots to the genital area.
While countless women and girls are now in desperate need of treatment and many are traumatized by their ordeal, no organized or comprehensive response has so far been developed to assist them.
Amnesty International is concerned that the DRC government and the international community have been far too slow in fulfilling their obligations to protect the human right to health for survivors and the Congolese population in general.
Amnesty International calls on the DRC government and the international community, including the EU, to take immediate measures to facilitate access to medical care for rape survivors and ensure that improving the health care system in the DRC is made a priority.
- Summary of Report PDF format - "DRC: Mass Rape - Time for Remedies"
- Full Report 67 pages PDF format - "DRC: Mass Rape - Time for Remedies"
- Testimonies 11 pages PDF format - "DRC: Surviving Rape: Voices from the East"
- Additional audio-visual material available on - news.amnesty.org
- Infos en français
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):