In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Marion Pratt and Leah Werchick conducted a three-week evaluation, “Sexual Terrorism: Rape as a weapon of war in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo”, on sexual violence that is so prevalent in this region.
They discovered that not only was rape in wartime a common repetition in the Congo during the many conflicts it suffered, there are also several categories of rapes committed by virtually all armed groups and militias involved. Moreover, from their research, they discovered that sexual and gender-based violence increased at the same time due to its effectiveness as a weapon of war. Combined together, these acts could “subjugate, punish or take revenge on entire communities” (Pratt & Werchick, 2004; 6). What is increasingly appalling is that the victims of sexual violence are aged between four months and 84 years (Pratt, Werchick, 2004; 7). Thanks to Pete Jones and Fiona Lloyd-Davis (2013), reporters from Eastern Congo, we have this direct testimony from a young Congolese soldier who committed crimes in the village of Minova: «I raped because my Commander started to rape first.
On my own, I have raped fifty-three women. I don’t know how old they were, older women around 30 or 40 years old. Younger women, babies around 3, and kids aged 5 and 6 years old». In an article on rape in the DRC entitled “Rape and War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (Carlsen, 2009), the author states that economic despair is one of the main motives of the ongoing sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo: soldiers and rebel forces in the country live in notoriously squalid conditions. With such limited options, soldiers provoke the use of rape to stealing all the property that the woman may possess. These fighters can go months without pay, if they are ever paid, and therefore have no choice but to look after themselves.
This creates a terrible cycle of poverty in which they find themselves stealing from the local population only to survive every day, which in turn precipitates the local population into poverty, hindering the economic development of the region