Widespread Systematic Rape of Congolese Women Continues Unchecked

AP today reports that Rwandan and Congolese rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women and some young boys over four days within miles of a U.N. peacekeepers' base in an eastern Congo mining district, an American aid worker and a Congolese doctor said Monday.

Here’s a CBS synopsis from a couple of years ago since when the situation has worsened:

Will F. Cragin of the International Medical Corps said aid workers knew rebels had occupied Luvungi town and surrounding villages in eastern Congo the day after the attack began on July 30. U.N. agencies sent text messages to cell phones saying the area was occupied, he said.

More than three weeks later, the U.N. mission has issued no statement about the atrocities and said Monday it still is investigating.

Cragin told The Associated Press by telephone that his organization was only able to get into the town, which he said is about 10 miles from a U.N. military camp, after rebels ended their brutal spree of raping and looting and withdrew of their own accord on Aug. 4.

There was no fighting and no deaths, he said, just "lots of pillaging and the systematic raping of women" by between 200 and 400 rebels.

Four young boys also were raped, said Dr. Kasimbo Charles Kacha, the district medical chief.

"Many women said they were raped in their homes in front of their children and husbands," Cragin said. Others were dragged into the nearby forest.

This is one woman's tragic account of what that kind of ordeal can be like:

Craigin said that by the time they got help it was too late to administer medication against AIDS and contraception to all but three of the survivors.

Many women said they were raped repeatedly by three to six attackers, he said.

International and local health workers have treated 179 women but the number raped could be much higher as terrified civilians still are hiding, he said.

"We keep going back and identifying more and more cases," he said. "Many of the women are returning from the forest naked, with no clothes."

congo-women_enough_project.jpgLuvungi is a farming center of about 2,200 people on the main road between Goma, the eastern provincial capital, and the major mining town of Walikale.

Kacha said on one day during the rebel occupation Indian peacekeepers had provided a military escort against the rebels to a large commercial truck traveling from Kebab to Luvungi, which is near a cassiterite mine and about 88 miles (140 kilometers) south of Goma.

U.N. mission spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai promised to get military comment on the assumption that the peacekeepers were protecting commercial goods but not civilians, which is their primary mandate.

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By Michelle Faul
CBS News/Associated Press
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Related links:
More About Women in Congo on AWR