Rape Tactic of War in the Congo Finds New Victims: Men

It’s no surprise that the Congo is considered the rape capital of the world. Hundreds of thousands of women have been sexually assaulted there over the years and now reports indicate that they are not alone.

Yesterday’s New York Times cover story reveals that men are now being raped too. Two of the latest victims share their horrifying story with the Times:

Kazungu Ziwa was in his hut when armed men broke in, put a machete to his throat, and yanked down his pants to rape him. He tried to fight back but the four feet, six inch man was beaten down.

Tupapo Mukuli was pinned down on his stomach and gang-raped by several men. He is currently the only man in the rape ward at Panzi hospital, where hundreds of other women are recovering from rape-related injuries.

Zima and Mukuli are not alone. According to Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, United Nations officials, and several Congolese aid organizations the number of men being raped has risen sharply over the last few months. In fact, the American Bar Association, which runs a sexual violence legal clinic in Goma, has reported that more than 10% of its cases in June were men.

These figures, however, could be way off base. For men (as it is for anyone) coming forward is difficult. Like women who are raped, men who are raped are shunned from their communities, ostracized, ridiculed, and are mockingly called “bush wives.” It’s not new for insults hurled at men to strike down their masculinity, but “bush wife” is worse than it sounds according to Salon:

“It’s not just “little wifey,” or some such. As described in the Christian Science Monitor, it refers to the widespread, entrenched practice of forcing women to become wives of African soldiers. (Given that the women are expected to stay with — and serve — the men for life, an international criminal tribunal now recognizes this as its own crime, separate from rape and sexual violence.)

So these men in Congo are seen as not just “women” or “wives”; they are “wives” who themselves are “weak” and victimized. Double-whammy, lowest-rung.”

A desire to demasculinze men could be the draw of selecting male victims. We know that rape is about power so raping a man, whose identity is very much connected to power and control, packs a whole new punch. This new power play also carries another dose of shame for the men with the added taboo of  homosexuality.

While the number of men being raped in the Congo is just a fraction of women victims, this new trend is important to note. If women aren’t enough what’s to say men aren’t enough? Then who? For now, it’s safe to say that noone is safe in the Congo. That’s for sure.


Photo originally printed in the New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/world/africa/05congo.html?em


Wanda Walker
Wanda Walker6 years ago

This is such a sad story on so many levels.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga7 years ago

all rapist shopuld get killed

Amber M.
Amber M8 years ago

I understand the psychology behind rape itself: it is about asserting dominance/control over the victim or what the victim represents to the perpetrator; I assume that in the case of institutionalized rape or rape as a weapon of war, it is also about the asserting the perps' allegiance to the gang they belong to. BUT can someone explain to me the psychology behind society's blaming the victim? From all the stories posted about this problem, you'd think every other person in all of Africa has been raped. If it's so widespread, why is there not more sympathy/understanding? Can someone please explain how society is so blind as to punish the victim rather than the perpetrator?

Dan Q.
Dan Q.8 years ago

If I were a billionaire,I would fund teams to lure/set up rapers, and then they would either arrest or shoot(preferrably) those that commit these crimes.Imagine the perps getting caught on camera,and then shot down?? Rape would plummit in the Congo. As for becoming a billionaire?See Diego the Nightmare Sanchez's myspace stevia blog at diegothenightmare to know that stevia is going to eventually lead me there. The fountain of youth? How much worth? Stevia makes it, blending hidden man made toxins out,creating an elixir that brings a 17yr cancerous skeleton of a cat back into perfect health and almost 19. Peachy was at the Vet, about to be put to sleep. Now? She's active, healthy, plump, it's all due to stevia, you probably don't even know about it cuz the Gestapo called the FDA suppressed it, and..... Diego's gf, Ali Sonoma, drank sweet water, and 14days later, her growing potential 2yr breast tumor vanished. This isn't a scam or gimmick. If you drank stevia sweet water all day long? You'd look like you did if you were lean in high school/college. Blend out all toxic soap? You'll be like me, leaner and explosively faster than I was 20 years ago when I was already like that playing ball at ND. See me on youtube at danquinn41, and know that I'm not kidding. When I'm a billionaire, I'll fund 'teams' to set up/lure victim makers into committing acts of violence, hopefully local law allows for them to be put down by bullet, it goes on youtube, and crimes cease to exist.

Deborah O.
Deborah O8 years ago

I heard this story on NPR and it was horrifying on so many levels. Children forced to live in holes in the ground, naked and then gang raped. Small boys, men, nothing is safe. I can only hope that now that rape seems to be an equal opportunity crime, that the citizens would want to come together, both male and female and band together instead of ostracizing the victims. This is a crime that needs to stay in peoples faces every day until these people are brought to justice. The biggest crime of all, is that it's the Congolese army that has created this recent uptick in rapes. And by the way they're funded by the US & other countries in the UN. Demand that your money is used to bring these criminals to justice.

Yvonne B.
Yvonne Baker8 years ago

Rape is not about sex, it's about power. To rape someone you take away their power and self worth. This is a powerful weapon to use to intimadate people and to bend them to your will.

Cindy M.
Cindy M8 years ago

I hear tons of complaints here, & what "should be done", but how is that stopping anything? The greatest power you have is in your pocketbook, word of mouth, & contacting elected officials, &/or starting a revolution. It doesn't matter who's raped or how, it's devastating for anyone! That's not what this post's about. If you just want to spew your opinion, what good does that do to anyone but you? Are you going to walk away & forget about it now that you've vented? Or are you willing to give up that new cell phone you so desperately "need". Or how about ignoring my previous post, or criticizing it? Does that benefit anything other than you? Does screaming out "death penalty" do anything other than make you feel like you've solved a problem? In this country we have it, & rapes still happen, yet w/it victims are more apt to be killed, & studies prove the guilty plea bargain, where innocents fight to "the death". & these rapist think not only they'll die w/out raping, but they'll lose the war. It may be a horrible superstition, but we have some to, you're just less apt to recognize them in your own culture.

Wanna do something? Here's a site to check out:


But this is too huge for you to blab your mouth & still go & buy buy all your new techonlogy you "can't live w/out", while disregarding fact because you want to continue your current lifestyle w/out lifting a fing

teresa mason

Rape is something that another person takes from you,you feel shame, you hide,you spend the rest of your life healing/This should never happen to any living 2 legged winged or 4 legged,for this is happening to our animals also,being chained and forced to have sex,poor elephants,will man ever awaken to this suffering they have caused,awaken your hearts to Peace

Robbie F.
.8 years ago

'We cannot be a friend to good not unless we fight evil'.
I was violently raped at 21. I never knew him but have tracked him down - he is a deejay in Sydney now was a pilot in Africa supporting mercenaries. I regret going to the police at the time. I had to bring them to where it happened. They were afraid. Other 'things' probably happened to me as a child - I am breaking this cycle of violence in part through the spirit of living 'the greatest revenge is to live well' although I still pull my hair out, froth at the mouth knowing that people support child raping priests have not had a stable relationship since before this evil. but I vow to myself that I will be happily married (even though I am nearly 50). If I didn't have a sense of humor, good friends my buddhist practice (Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo) SGI - I probably would have killed my self so dropped my life into the abyss of hell. I truly appreciate the courage (of Rich M) wisdom (of Genevieve H) of comments here. As kindred spirits let's pledge to continue to create value in whatever circumstances we find ourselves live true to our ideals heal our hearts by whatever means possible.

"Choose Hope . . . Choose Peace: from a healed peaceful heart humility is born. From humility a willingness to listen to others is born. From a willingness to listen to others mutual understanding is born and from mutual understanding a peaceful society is born." Daisaku Ikeda my mentor.

Emily J.
Emily J8 years ago

I agree with Clark G - convicted rapists need to have their life terminated...if this ever happened to my child and I KNEW who the rapist was they would see not be walking around enjoying a normal life..I would guarantee that.