Two important events from the DRC – The one month campaign against sexual violence in the DRC took place between March 17-April 17th and coincided with a new law to ending the crimininalisation of children by accusing them of witchcraft. The campaign was funded by the UN Population Fund. However the question is in a country where tens of thousands of women have been raped and mutilated why did this campaign end after just one month. What happens now? The rapists remain free, and no one has been called to account for their crimes. Jacques Depelchin of the Otabenga Alliance raises two important questions –
Is it too harsh to ask oneself whether the campaign stopped after one month because that is what had been budgeted by the UN and other supporting NGOs, and agencies? Could it be that in a country like the DRC, moral and ethical values have been so badly eroded that nothing can be done unless one is paid for it–including getting rid of crimes like sexual violence against women and children,? The dominant mindset is not just one that is standing above us. It has taken root within ourselves. It has taken root within the minds of those who are the primary victims of its dominance.
If sexual violence were to be considered, like slavery, as a crime against humanity, would one be so nonchalant toward it? From 1791 through 1804, the Africans who had been enslaved in Haiti got rid of slavery. They did not achieve this through one month campaigns and fundraising exercises. They had no support from outside, no human rights organization
Then, the mindset of the enslavers accepted as normal that Africans were meant to be slaves. Step by step, over centuries, the mindset of the enslavers has enslaved parts of humanity to the notion that women and children are fair game for the abusive sexual behavior and pleasure of men.
The points raised by Jacques are equally applicable to the sexual violence and torture against women in South Africa of whom lesbians are a specific target. The stigma of rape is not on the rapist but on the women who are raped and this is the same mindset whether in the DRC, South Africa, the Niger Delta, Haiti or here in the UK. The UN has the resources to the maintain a continual campaign against sexual violence in the DRC as well as the resources to bring justice to the thousands of women survivors of some of the most horrific acts of sexual violence – Funding a one month campaign is pathetic and in fact could very well cause more harm against women who have come forth and spoken out about the crimes commited against them. What happens to them when the UN is gone and the campaign ended – the rapists remain free.
The second event is the continued assassination threat against Professor Wamba dia Wamba and Deputy Kiakwama of the Otabenga Alliance who has been actively protesting the continued brutality by the government of the DRC against the people of the “Bas-Congo (Lower Congo)–especially toward members of the Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), a “movement for the cultural and spiritual emancipation of the Congo people” For more information on this see the Otabenga Alliance website.