Cedric Gerbehave/Doctors Without Borders/AP
A rape victim is photographed at a clinic in Western Kasai, Congo.

UN to Address Rape as Weapon

June 17, 2008 07:02 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Long neglected, the issue of rape as a weapon of war will be the topic of a UN Security Council debate led by Condoleezza Rice later this week. 

30-Second Summary

According to the Web site MONUC, Rice will lead the debate on June 19 in New York. Advocates are troubled by the lack of attention given to the issue of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where 60 percent of perpetrators are believed to have the AIDS virus.

UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said, “At this meeting, we hope the council will adopt by consensus a resolution to be proposed by the United States calling for an end to the use of sexual violence against civilians as a weapon of war.”

According to The Nation, “Rape as a weapon of war is as old as war itself. What has changed recently is that sexual violence is no longer considered just a byproduct of conflict but is being viewed as a war crime.”

In the DRC, more people have died than in Afghanistan, Darfur and Iraq combined, and “the most frequent targets of this hidden war are women,” reports CBS. The weapon of choice among militiamen is rape.

According to IRIN, the rape epidemic in Congo stems from genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. “Since then, the Congolese army, foreign-backed rebels, and home-grown militias have been fighting each other over power and this land.”

Despite a 2004 Amnesty International report on the topic, the U.N. did not address conflict-related rape until April of this year. New York Times reporter Nicholas D. Kristof said the UN has responded “painfully slowly.”

Headline Links: Documenting rape as a weapon

Background: The Rwanda connection

Related Topics: Aid workers contribute to crisis

Opinion & Analysis: Shrugging off Central Africa

Reference: Profiling Sudan; Stop Rape Now


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