Since 1996, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has played host to the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Over 5.4 million Congolese have died and 1.7 million have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict.
Congo held its first elections in 1996, and prepares to hold its second in November, 2011. Strong U.S. engagement can help end the conflict and aid in the election process. Positive statements and actions by U.S. officials are a step in the right direction, but we must demand comprehensive action. Each day that goes by without action, thousands more Congolese are displaced or killed and countless women and girls are raped.
Minerals Fueling the Fight
Revenue from Congo's minerals bankrolls atrocities and conflict, and militias often use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control communities as they profit from the illicit trade in Congo's conflict minerals -- tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold. Many of these same conflict minerals end up in our own electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras.
Rape as a Weapon of War
"It is more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier right now." -Major General Patrick Cammaert, former UN Deputy Force Commander, describing the situation in eastern Congo, May 2008
Eastern Congo is the worst place in the world to be a woman. Every day women and girls face threats from armed militias, the military, and even the police who are supposed to protect them. Militias use rape as a weapon of war, destroying communities by targeting women, the backbone of Congolese society.
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