300 raped in Congo, promise to protect them broken again

Between July 30 and August 2nd, armed militants identified as Mai Mai Cheka Cheka and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda ( FDLR) occupied the town of Luvungi in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and raped many women, said Mr Khare, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping. A “preliminary report describes how the team confirmed that at least 303 civilians were raped, in many cases multiple times. The known victims include 235 women, 52 girls, 13 men, and 3 boys. In addition, at least 923 houses and 42 shops were looted and 116 people were abducted in order to carry out forced labour”  Read more

The response to this tragedy has become all too familiar, a promise to investigate and protect the women next time.  Since the invasion of the DRC by Rwandan and Ugandan forces 14 years ago, this promise has been broken over and over.   In the recent report by PBS Newshour on September 13th, Solange M’Maheshe says that she has been raped  four times since the war started.  Watch the report here

The failure to protect the women of Luvungi  is blamed on the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the Congo.   But the Congolese government must be held accountable for the ongoing tragedy of rape because of its lack of making security in eastern Congo a priority.    In fact, the UN peacekeepers are very limited in number and cannot be everywhere.   At this stage, the international community should not be taking the frontline in securing the Congolese people.  Security is the full responsibility of the Congolese government.

The Congolese leadership must know that the international community will never build the Congo, but the Congolese people must take the lead in rebuilding their nation.    This is why the Congolese government is the first to blame for not protecting its citizens.    The sad part is that some members of the Congolese army are also guilty of rape.   The victims and women who live in fear of being raped are tired of promises to protect them.   Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) believes that now is the time to protect them.   With or without the help of the international community, the Congolese government must find a solution to why these militant groups exist and how they can put their arms down.

By Bahati Jacques

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