SCIAF responds to mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Scottish Catholic charity SCIAF is providing frontline care to victims of two recent incidents of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Around 150 ex-militiamen who had been integrated into the national army deserted and went on the rampage through two remote villages near Fizi, South Kivu, on June 10 and 11.

In the first village, Abala, the soldiers looted houses and butchered livestock before systematically raping 54 girls and women. Victims included the elderly.

The following day, 135 women and girls were raped when the militiamen attacked Nakiele 13km away.

SCIAF is helping the survivors to access trauma counselling, and free medical care and legal support.

They are supporting the women through local partners and a network of 21 ‘listening centres’ established to help victims of rape, a widespread weapon of war in north-eastern DRC.

In addition to the services provided through the listening centres, SCIAF has also helped to train 22 doctors in fistula surgery to increase the number of women who are able to receive the medical treatment they need.

SCIAF’s Africa Programmes Manager, Deborah Livingstone said: “SCIAF’s listening centres in Fizi and other parts of South Kivu are providing frontline support to traumatised survivors and their families so that they can quickly access the medical, psychological, social and legal support they need.

“Without such help, many of the women and young girls will be unable to come to terms with the harrowing ordeals they have endured.”

A recent global survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked the DRC as the second most dangerous place in the world to be a woman.

Ms Livingstone said: “The most recent attacks highlight once again the shocking scale of sexual violence in the DR Congo.

“Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war in eastern DR Congo for many years but despite the recent reduction in fighting it remains a huge problem.”