Education International
Education International

Sexual violence: combating impunity in DRC

published 25 February 2011 updated 25 February 2011

EI has welcomed the conviction and sentencing of high-ranking officers in the Congolese army for committing mass rapes of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A senior army commander, Lt. Colonel Kibibi Mutwara, was arrested accused of ordering his men to rape more than one dozen women during an attack on Fizi, a town in South Kivu, last January. The arrest followed the detention of 10 other soldiers in the case.

EI hopes that these convictions, in a military court, will mark a breakthrough in the fight against impunity and sexual violence in eastern Congo, where civilian populations have continued to be raped, pillaged and terrorised with other forms of violence at the hands of the armed forces. Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war in Eastern Congo. It is not limited to the armed conflict as it has taken place in schools, homes and workplaces all over the country. The events have systematically destroyed hopes for social rehabilitation.

Figures show that one-third of rapes reported in the DRC, involve children, 13 per cent of those children are under the age of 10.

According to UNICEF, many women do not manage to get care after being assaulted. Fear and shame are one reason, lack of access is another, with the distances between affected areas and health centres being too far, and public transport not readily accessible.

As part of the campaign to eliminate violence against women, EI has already spoken out in public to condemn sexual violence in the DRC.

EI has urged the authorities of countries caught up in military or other conflicts to respect the right to education and protect educational centres as safe sanctuaries and zones of peace for girls, boys and their teachers.