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Congolese Women 134 times More Likely to be Raped than American WomenAlysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
Sexual violence occurred in all provinces.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - A new study shows that women in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being raped at a rate 26 times higher than previously thought.
The shockingly high number is equivalent to 1,152 women raped every day, 48 raped every hour, or four women raped every five minutes.
More than 400,000 women ages 15 to 49 were raped across all provinces in the DR Congo during a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007.
The new study in the American Journal of Public Health, “Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” represents the first-ever estimates of sexual violence in DRC based on rigorous examination of government-collected and nationally representative data.
Previous estimates used police and health center reports as well as United Nations findings, last year they reported only 15,000 women raped during the same time frame.
“The study creates another compelling argument that sexual violence in the DRC is not only a grievous mass violation of human rights but is a security threat to the entire DRC,” said Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. “While there are certainly limitations to the use of these data, the message is important and clear: Rape in the DRC has metastasized amid a climate of impunity, and has emerged as one of the great human crises of our time.”
Sexual violence occurred in all provinces, while the number of women raped at least once in the eastern conflict area of North Kivu—67 per 1,000—is more than double the national average of 29 per 1,000.
This means a woman in certain parts of the Congo are 134 times more likely to be raped than a woman in the United States, whose annual rape rate is 0.5 per 1,000 women.
Rates of rape in other provinces show that Congo’s sexual violence pandemic is not limited to armed-conflict zones. In fact, the outlier Equateur province showed rates higher than the conflict-affected South Kivu and Orientale provinces - 65 in Equateur to 44 and 38 respectively. This is a new and highly significant finding.
“Previously, Congo’s sexual violence has been framed as women and children caught between two armed groups in eastern Congo,” said Lisa Shannon, founder of the human rights advocacy group A Thousand Sisters.
“But these numbers show us that conflict in the east has produced a rape pandemic of astronomical proportions, but that that pandemic is not contained. We now know high levels of sexual violence exist even in non-conflict areas.”
“Our results confirm that previous estimates of rape and sexual violence are severe underestimates of the true prevalence of sexual violence occurring in the DRC,” said lead study author Amber Peterman, PhD. “Moreover, even these new, much higher figures still represent a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of sexual violence because of chronic underreporting due to stigma, shame, perceived impunity, and exclusion of younger and older age groups as well as men.”
Source: A Thousand Sisters
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: email@example.com
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