Added: February 14, 2015 – Last updated: May 2, 2015


Author: Alexis Arieff

Title: Sexual Violence in African Conflicts

Subtitle: -

Place: Washington, D.C.

Publisher: Congressional Research Service

Year: November 30, 2010

Pages: 32pp.

Series: CRS Report for Congress

OCLC: 705949244 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | Congolese History


Link: Federation of American Scientists (Free Access)


Abstract: »Civilians in Africa’s conflict zones--particularly women and children, but also men--are often vulnerable to sexual violence, including rape, mutilation, and sexual slavery. This violence is carried out by government security forces and non-state actors, including, rebel groups, militias, and criminal organizations. Some abuses appear to be opportunistic, or the product of a larger breakdown in the rule of law and social order that may occur amid conflict. Other incidents of sexual violence appear to be carried out systematically by combatants as a strategic tool to intimidate and humiliate civilian populations seen as sympathetic to opposing factions. While such abuses are by no means limited to Africa, weak institutions in many African states can mean that victims have little redress; in addition to health and psychological consequences, survivors are also often shunned by their families and communities. The issue has been particularly prevalent in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where security forces, rebel organizations, militias, and other armed groups have inflicted sexual violence upon the civilian population on a massive scale. This report provides a detailed case study of DRC and an index of U.S. programs there. The issue of sexual violence in conflict is complex, with implications for international programs and policies related to health, humanitarian relief, global women’s issues, the justice sector, the security sector, and multilateral activities. Multiple U.S. government agencies and implementing partners contribute to efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in African conflicts, including the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense, among others. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken the lead on the Obama Administration’s initiative to address the issue through speeches, official travel, public remarks, writings, and actions at the United Nations. Still, concerns remain among some analysts that programmatic responses to the issue have lacked coordination between donors and among implementers. The 111th Congress has repeatedly expressed interest in bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence in African conflicts and support for programs to address it through legislation, hearings, and other congressional actions. Potential issues for Congress include the authorization and appropriation of targeted assistance programs and oversight of Administration policies and participation in multilateral activities. Related legislation includes H.Res. 1676 (Carnahan); H.R. 5121 (Clarke); S. 2982 (Kerry); H.R. 4594 (Delahunt); H.Res. 931 (Carson); and H.J.Res. 10 (Jackson-Lee). The “conflict minerals” amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173, passed into law on July 21, 2010, as P.L. 111-203) references reported links between illicit mining activities and high levels of sexual and gender-based violence in DRC. For further background, see CRS Report RL34438, International Violence Against Women: U.S. Response and Policy Issues, coordinated by Luisa Blanchfield.« (Source: Open CRS)


  Recenct developments (p. 1)
    Congressional activities (p. 1)
    Walikale mass rapes (p. 1)
  Overview (p. 2)
    Congressional activities (p. 3)
  Selected cases and context (p. 5)
    Context (p. 6)
      Opportunistic violence (p. 7)
      Sexual violence as a strategic tool (p. 8)
      Humanitarian and post-conflict settings (p. 9)
      Sexual violence by security forces in peacetime (p. 9)
    Impact on victims and communities (p. 10)
    Challenges in prevention and response (p. 11)
      Access to health services (p. 11)
      Law enforcement (p. 11)
      Military justice (p. 12)
      Legal status of women (p. 12)
    International mechanisms (p. 13)
      Selected U.N. activities (p. 13)
      International prosecutions (p. 14)
  U.S. policy (p. 16)
    Agency and department roles (p. 16)
    Types of programs (p. 17)
  Case study: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (p. 19)
    The dynamics of sexual violence in DRC’s conflicts (p. 20)
    DRC government responses (p. 22)
    U.N. peacekeeping activities (p. 22)
      Abuses by U.N. peacekeepers (p. 23)
    U.S. policy responses (p. 24)
      Congressional actions (p. 26)
  Outlook and issues for Congress (p. 26)
    Strategy and emphasis (p. 26)
    Training programs (p. 27)
    The role of U.N. peacekeeping missions (p. 27)
    Measurement and evaluation (p. 28)
    Coordination of resources (p. 28)
  Appendix. State Department and USAID Programs in DRC (p. 30)
  Author contact information (p. 32)

Wikipedia: Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Wartime sexual violence: Second Congo War