n African Human Rights Law Journal - Prosecuting sexual violence in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo : obstacles for survivors on the road to justice

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



Sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Eastern DRC) has been described as the worst in the world. Despite the introduction of forceful legislative amendments to reduce the violence, the scourge of sexual violence still plagues Eastern DRC. Given that the Congolese state prosecutes very few cases, the paper identifies and explains the obstacles victims face when seeking the prosecution of sexual violence perpetrators in Eastern DRC. Based on interviews conducted in Eastern DRC with various vocational and demographic groups from May to August 2008, the paper reveals the magnitude of sociological, institutional, financial and legal factors hindering the prosecution of sexual offenders. The paper argues that the successful prosecution of sexual offenders in Eastern DRC faces a myriad of obstacles and requires an exceptionally lucky combination of a number of unlikely conditions. To overcome these obstacles, strategists must concentrate on what underlies the sexual violence, namely, insecurity in Eastern DRC, as well as strengthening the capacity of the judicial sector.

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