Rape in DR Congo…An Economic War on Women Bodies
A seven-minute video showing a woman being beaten, raped and then beheaded in a public square in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was circulating on the messaging platform Whatsapp for months before being validated and published by France 24 last week.
The nameless woman, a local restaurateur, is a new victim in a brutal conflict that has gripped a formerly sedate region in Congo for a year, but she is arguably also part of an old story of violence that dates back to the late 19th century.
Between 1885 and 1908 Belgium’s King Leopold II made Congo his own private colony, amassing great wealth from rubber harvested through forced labor. Not meeting your quota would result in a limb being chopped off. In just 20 years 10 million people died.
It is this history and its role in the present day crisis that Dr. Denis Mukwege wishes more people around the world knew, and Congolese people remembered.
Mukwege has earned the moniker ‘The man who mends women’ for the work he and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital have done to treat thousands (46,000 according to recent reports) of women and girls, survivors of rape and sexual violence which has been used as a weapon of war since conflict began in the east of the DRC in 1995.