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Democratic Republic of Congo Colonel Jailed for Mass Rape

Democratic Republic of Congo Colonel Jailed for Mass Rape

In an unusual move, a military court in the eastern part of the Democratic sentenced Lt. Col. Kibibi Mutware to 20 years in jail after finding him guilty of crimes against humanity.  Almost fifty women came and testified against the colonel; it was the first rape conviction against a commanding officer in the eastern DRC.  This is despite the fact that government agencies repeatedly cite government troops as the most widespread perpetrator of sexual violence in the region.

On New Year’s Day, Mutware sent his troops to rape, beat up and loot the town of Fizi in the Kivu province.  More than 60 women were raped.  It’s extremely unusual, however, for so many women to testify against their rapists.  The women gathered together to await the verdict, and spoke to the BBC about the crimes that had been inflicted on them.

“I was fleeing the violence but unfortunately I met four soldiers,” a 29-year-old mother of five said.  “They began to tear the pants I was wearing. They took my child from my arms and left him on the ground. Then they had sex with me.”

Rape is used as a systematic tactic of war in the DRC; the UN recorded 11,000 rapes in 2010, but most estimate the real total to be much higher.  Organizations like Doctors Without Borders dispatch mobile clinics to help rape victims, but the rebel forces seem for the most part to be able to act with impunity.

It’s hopeful, though, that rape victims in the Congo seem willing to speak out, although this BBC news article makes it seem like the people in this case were all women.  In reality, many of the people who are subjected to rape by the rebel forces are men and others are children, while women do comprise a large number of the victims as well.

The 20 years that Mutware was given seem extremely light to me, considering that he was convicted of crimes against humanity, but the very fact that he was convicted and sentenced is another good sign. If more rape victims are willing to speak out, the chances are better that people will take notice of – and act against – the horrible violence being committed in the DRC.  As the mass rape of a town last August proved, the presence of UN peacekeepers doesn’t seem to be doing enough.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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65 comments

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11:18AM PDT on May 25, 2011

I ask you.......should one blame just the rapists or also those who stood around and watched it/ allowed it to happen?

why isn't the UN doing something about it? why aren't other ABLE nations of the world doing anything about it?

Why were 3 Trillion dollars spent on useless wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan looking for one man while many human beings suffered under the yoke of a different kind of terrorism elsewhere?

Where are the human rights organisations and women's rights organisations?

11:10AM PDT on May 25, 2011

Why isn't America, who is the policeman of the world, going into the congo and change the regime and institue a democracy there. It has gone after Mubarik, it is going after Gaddafi, it went after Osama so why not here? And i am not even mentioning the fact that US itself is guilty of selling weapons to the congo.

Whats the UN doing there for so long? Oh yea it was gathering statistics and interviewing the vistims. The UN is being blamed for shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan why is it standing around and watching these young girls raped and killed? And you probably haven't heard because it hasn't been posted to care2, The same is going on in Indian Occupied Kashmir. India has about 700,000 militia posted there and rape is just a past time with those soldiers too. Incidently the Kashmir issue is the oldest unresolved issue on the UN table to date. Again why isn't the UN adressing older issues of war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. and taking on new issues of wars against terrorism?

I wonder why the world focuses so much on one part and neglects the others completly? are these rapists and gun weilding kids not a form of terrorist? Or do you still have some closed, secret definations of terrorists as people who only attack America.

2:14AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Anything more than just having him in jail?

9:49AM PST on Mar 7, 2011

What kind of people would do this crime??
That's right. Africans
They are not worried about how it makes the world think of them

6:37PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

That bastards probably one of many in Africa...seems that many of the men have the same mentality...brains between their legs and stupid as hell..........must be something in Africas water......

8:24PM PST on Feb 26, 2011

noted :0

9:57AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

Just glad that these women have found a voice and that this sends out a message to others who would treat people like this.

6:00AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

I wish he had received the death sentence.

10:50AM PST on Feb 24, 2011

I feel the sentence is too light for this heinous crime as well...and what of the soldiers? Horrifying war tactics such as this should be punished far more harshly. Conversely, I suppose, at least they are finally BEING punished at all.

3:49PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

So glad to hear that justice is finally being served.

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