Cases of rape against men are skyrocketing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where rape against women has been increasingly frequently as a weapon of war in recent years. The American Bar Association reported that in addition to being used as a weapon of war by militias, assailants also include police officers and members of the national army. In June, ABA's sexual violence clinic in Goma reported that 10 percent of its cases involved male survivors.
Three communities in North and South Kivu, where sexual violence is particularly acute, reported rape against men in January, including eight recent cases of male rape in one community, according to Xinhua News. Militia members consider sexual violence a tactic to humiliate and dehumanize the Congolese people. According to the New York Times, one victim said, "I'm laughed at. The people in my village say: 'You're no longer a man. Those people in the bush made you their wife.'"
Though most men refuse to report instances of rape because of social stigma associated with homosexual acts, serious assaults resulting in continuous bleeding and castration have been reported, according to the Edge.
Since the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began in 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped. Thousands of Congolese women marched in Kinshasa late last year to protest rape as a weapon of war. According to the Daily Nation, humanitarian groups have estimated that between 400 to over 1,000 rapes occurred in the eastern part of the country alone during just the first three months of this year.
Media Resources: American Bar Association 5/09; Xinhua News 7/14/09; The Edge 8/5/09; The New York Times 8/4/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/24/09; Daily Nation 6/23/09
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SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
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