A WEAPON OF WAR: SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SOUTH KIVU, DRC
Arche D'Alliance


For three and a half years, Arche d'Alliance, a human rights 
organisation, has been involved in a project investigating, monitoring, 
reporting and offering legal and socio-medical assistance to women 
victims of sexual violence in the territories of Uvira and Fizi. The 
project has also been interested in cases of male victims of sexual 
violence from 2003 to date.

In the large and populated Fizi Territory, situated in southern South 
Kivu province, the two principal rival armed groups which have been 
fighting for five years - the army of the RCD-Goma and Mayi-Mayi 
combatants (FAP) - have all committed grave abuses and human rights 
violations against the civilian populations. Sexual violence, 
particularly rape, indecent assault and forced pregnancy have been 
committed against women and girls on a large scale in Fizi Territory.

However, a particular phenomenon relating to this sexual violence has 
also occurred in Fizi against many men. Men have been subjected to 
sexual violence through forced anal sex. In the majority of cases, 
combatants belonging to foreign armed forces (Burundian and Rwandan) 
have committed these acts. Forces involved include the Rwandan 
Interahamwe and elements of the Burundian Front for the Defence of 
Democracy (Front pour la défense de la démocratie - FDD) who fought 
with the Congolese Mayi-Mayi (FAP) combatants against the RCD-Goma 
rebellion, supported by Rwanda and Burundi.

Thousands of male victims of sexual violence were identified especially 
in the large Ngandja community. Numerous cases were also registered in 
the community of Mutambala in Fizi Territory. In the majority of cases, 
investigators limited themselves to identifying the victims, although 
Arche d'Alliance supported about ten victims who agreed to appear 
publicly and receive assistance for their basic needs and medical care.

The head of the liaison office in Bakara/Fizi, Ms Marie Mulasi, is 
responsible, in particular, for assistance to male victims of sodomy or 
indecent assault. She directs them to the Médecins Sans Frontières 
hospital in Baraka for appropriate medical treatment and temporary 
solutions to their social needs, with the support of office materials 
from Arche d'Alliance based in Uvira.

Techniques used by perpetrators of sodomy

Perpetrators of sodomy in Fizi use violence and death threats against 
their victims before imposing sexual acts. Often victims are stabbed 
and burned before or after sexual aggression, particularly if they 
tried to resist. In addition, victims have indicated that often they 
were abused in the presence of their wives and children. In Fizi 
Territory, men were sometimes gathered in villages by Interahamwe and 
FDD and subjected to sexual aggression under death threats.

The objective of sexual violence

Men are victims of sodomy in Fizi for various reasons. In the majority 
of cases, perpetrators of sexual crimes take revenge against men 
suspected of conspiring with the enemy forces of the RCD-Goma. In 
addition, the aggressors act to intimidate, humiliate and discourage 
their victims from collaborating with the enemy.

Consequences

Male sodomy victims are traumatised. They are abandoned by their wives. 
Raped women are also often renounced by their husbands. In addition, 
the investigation by Arche d'Alliance reveals the transmission of 
venereal diseases and particularly HIV/AIDS, as well as the death of 
several victims who did not receive medical attention. The most common 
symptoms are anal and generalised pain.

In addition, male sodomy victims suffer social rejection and 
stigmatisation. The fact that in several impoverished households it is 
the women who meet the needs of the family by undertaking resourceful 
activities means that abandoned male sodomy victims face serious 
socio-economic problems and may not be able to meet their basic needs. 
In addition, they lose respect in their communities.

Conclusions

Sodomy and indecent assault, of which several men are victim in Fizi, 
constitutes an attack on their dignity and their physical integrity. 
The consequences of these inhuman, humiliating, degrading and cruel 
acts are tragic. They have a decisive impact on the lives of victims, 
who today are unhappy, at risk of death and without any family support.

The presence today of perpetrators in the communities constitutes a 
permanent danger for the rest of the population in the area. At the end 
of March 2004, the association Arche d'Alliance sent its members to 
several areas of the two communities most affected by the phenomenon. 
Delegates of the association were responsible for leading an 
awareness-raising campaign among other sodomy victims in order that 
they may benefit from medical treatment as a priority.

Recommendations

a.) To the authorities

In addressing this report to the offices of the Ministries of National 
Defence, Interior, Health and Human Rights, Arche d'Alliance recommends 
that the Congolese government bring peace to Fizi Territory and the 
rest of the province so that everyone benefits from security. To the 
political, administrative and military authorities of Fizi, to whom the 
association has also sent copies of this report, the association 
requests that they respond to the social and medical concerns of 
hundreds of male victims of sodomy in Fizi.

b.) To partners

The association Arche d'Alliance solicits assistance in putting 
pressure on foreign belligerents who are still present on Congolese 
territory and continue to occupy their respective positions in Fizi. 
These groups must stop committing the sexual crime that is sodomy. The 
association also asks partners to contribute to raising awareness among 
local communities so that they respect human rights and, in particular, 
so that the inhuman cases of sodomy are denounced and condemned. 
Finally, the association requests social, humanitarian and medical 
assistance from its partners.

* Arche d'Alliance is a local human rights organisation operating in 
the DRC. This article appeared recently on Kirimba (www.kirimba.org/), 
a web-site largely dedicated to addressing events in Burundi. Kirimba 
is coordinated by a member of the extended Africa team of UPEACE, Mr. 
Athanase Karayenga.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org