n African Human Rights Law Journal - The right to justice : a challenge for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo




In the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, since 1996 conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls, particularly, has been a sad reality, even though these crimes are prohibited by international humanitarian law and criminalised by international and domestic criminal laws. When these violations occur, the perpetrators should be brought to justice. However, survivors face many challenges in holding perpetrators accountable, such as fear of speaking out due to cultural prohibitions, stigmatisation and fear of reprisals and rejection. The judiciary also faces challenges, including an insufficient budget, the lack of a competent court of law to deal with crimes of sexual violence in rural areas, poor equipment and a lack of education on crimes of sexual violence. In order to improve this situation, this research article argues that it is vital that the Congolese government establish competent courts of law to deal with crimes of sexual violence in rural areas and to ensure that officers of the judicial police are well trained, well remunerated and equipped to conduct investigations. Survivors should be adequately informed, encouraged and made aware of the fact that breaking the silence is an effective way of eradicating rape and other forms of sexual violence. Local communities should also be made aware and sensitised so that they do not reject survivors because unknown people have abused them.


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