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Rebel Leader Arrested For Congo Mass Rapes

Rebel Leader Arrested For Congo Mass Rapes

Over the past few weeks, there’s been much discussion of the aftermath of the mass rapes in Luvungi, a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the role of the UN peacekeepers who were stationed nearby.  UN peacekeepers have increasingly come under fire for their apparent inability or unwillingness to protect civilians from violence. 

It’s possible that the harsh criticism that came in the wake of these attacks was part of the impetus for the arrest of Lt. Col Mayele of the Mai Mai Cheka rebel group, who was captured in a joint effort between UN peacekeepers and the army in the DRC.

At the end of July and the beginning of August, up to 500 women were brutally raped by rebel forces.  UN peacekeepers, it was later revealed, knew that some violence was occurring in the village as it was going on, although they did not know the scale.  Their inaction was, however, devastating. 

A doctor from the International Medical Corps told Reuters, “Men saw how they raped their wives, sons saw how they raped their mothers. Everyone in these villages is now very withdrawn and cold and in need of psychological assistance.”

The UN’s representative on sexual violence, Margot Wallstrom, said that the arrest of Lt. Mayele was a “victory for justice.”  She also said that the UN mission needed greater resources, and that if these attacks continued, the violence would “brutalise the whole society, from generation to generation, and destroy all the values, all the standards.”

The whole incident reveals that although the UN does need more support, peacekeepers need to be more vigilant about investigating reported violence, and refuse to allow the appalling violence in a conflict zone like the DRC harden them so that they don’t ignore rape simply because it’s only happening to a few women.

You can sign the petition, telling the UN to end rape and violence in the DRC.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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46 comments

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4:54PM PDT on Oct 17, 2010

Gang rape is a horrible thing and just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tragedies in Africa. We need to hear more stories like this to get outraged and get our governments to honor the committments they made in financial support to Africa that they have greatly missed the mark on.

4:11PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

Signed the petition and yes he should be punished!

3:24AM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

Signed - he should be punished

6:26PM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

500 women is NOT just a FEW women. This is totally appalling.

3:43PM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

What an awful story. Poor women.

6:57AM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

Elizabeth C: execute rapists to make women feel safer because their attacker will never return? In places where the death penalty applies to rape, women are much more likely to be murdered after the attack to silence the one person whose testimony can condemn him to death. As a result of your idea, more women would be killed.

2:40PM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

Another example of how ineffectual the UN is. These people should be tried by the world court.

11:37AM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

Mark S. Castration won't stop violence. It will come out in another way. And, rape occurs not only with a penis.

11:35AM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

Mark H. Yes, turn him over to the villagers for more trauma. No. These people need to know that they are not forgotten and that the tragedy that has befallen them will not go unnoticed.

10:47AM PDT on Oct 7, 2010

I am so glad that someone is finally being brought to justice for these horrific crimes. We need more justice for the women of the Congo and other war-torn regions where rape is used as a war tactic to subdue and traumatize civilian populations.

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