Eastern Congo is currently probably the worst place on earth for women and girls, declared Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, upon her return from a journey through the war zone in North and South Kivu in the summer of 2007. Sexualized violence, she said, has reached epidemic proportions and is perpetrated by all parties: the armed militias, the army, the police, and civilians. The atrocities are unimaginable and went far beyond rape.
Women and girls were publicly penetrated with objects, often by male gangs who wanted to terrorize communities and totally destroy women’s physical and psychological integrity. Although the Congolese Parliament passed a law against rape in 2006, almost complete impunity prevails, especially for offenders wearing the uniform of the state, said Yakin Ertürk in her critique. Nothing has changed to this day – in fact quite the opposite: The new conflicts resurging in eastern Congo during the autumn of 2008 once again involved horrific forms of sexualized violence.
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