There is a solution for the plight of women and girls in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. By promoting peace, providing protection, punishing the perpetrators, and promoting the prevention of sexual violence and other crimes against humanity, the 4Ps, we can end the conflict, stop atrocities, and protect and empower Congolese women.
The United States and its partners, including the United Nations, European Union, and African Union, must lead efforts to establish a strong peace process and help to dismantle these armed groups; otherwise the violence against women will only increase.
- Step up diplomacy
- Demobilize armed groups
Sexual violence and rape in eastern Congo occurs on a scale seen nowhere else in the world. The United States must lead the international community to improve protection for women and girls in eastern Congo.
- Improve UN peacekeepers' response to sexual violence
- Fund programs to respond to and help prevent sexual violence
- Neutralize the worst offenders
- Pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)
A culture of impunity in Congo is fuelling the epidemic of rape and sexual violence. For the women and girls who have had the courage to publicly identify their rapists, prosecutions are exceedingly rare. Those few perpetrators thrown into jail are often able to bribe their way to freedom, or simply break out, as authorities rarely chase escapees. The United States must lead international efforts to hold the perpetrators of rape and sexual violence accountable.
- Pursue international accountability
- Make sanctions bite
Preventing sexual violence in eastern Congo will require political and financial commitment to reforming Congo's security, justice, and economic institutions over the coming years. The United States can start the ball rolling on this monumental task by prioritizing four areas.
- Reform the security sector
- Restore the rule of law
- Staunch resource exploitation
- Invest in Congo's development