First, the Washington Post has this horrifying piece about the rising rate in rape as a result of the ongoing FARDC offensive against the FDLR (in part the former Rwandan genocidaires). What I found was different about the piece: interviews with rape victims and interviews with soldiers who try to justify/rationalize their behavior. It also describes how nothing happens, even when commanders are notified of these crimes.
"The truth is like this," said one officer, sitting under a shed and sipping a powerful local brew. "What is making soldiers to do these bad things is their treatment by the army. Imagine, one can of sardines?! And you send a soldier away for 10 years?! So, I'm hungry, I'm in need of a wife and I have no money to pay for a prostitute, he said. "If I see a woman walking on the road, and I love her, I will take her. I will help myself."
Since we've learned a lot recently about actually paying soldiers, lowering absenteeism rates and increasing professionalism, maybe that's something we could share with the EU and the UN as they work to professionalize the FARDC. One thing is for sure, things aren't going to change in Congo until we figure out ways to make sure the FARDC aren't away from home for too long, and of course are held accountable for raping, looting, and generally behaving like a bunch thugs.
UPDATE 1: More on Clinton's plan to fight rape in DRC:
She announced that the American government would train doctors, supply rape victims with video cameras to document violence, send American military engineers to help build facilities and train Congolese police officers, especially female police officers, to crack down on rapists.That and the Secretary also mentioned the need to better regulate the conflict-funding mineral trade in the region.
UPDATE 2: Thanks to Vanessa for pointing this out but Texas in Africa (and some people in the comments) makes the following observation about the program:
$17 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed to treat the tens of thousands of victims who need immediate help...That money is nowhere near enough to whip the police force into shape (and they need training on more issues than just gender-based violence), but it will certainly help.And then a commenter:
Also on the camcorders - don't they contain coltan, and wouldn't distributing large numbers of them simply increase the demand for the mineral "they" say should be curtailed to stop the violence? Or don't they believe that?Well, obviously, I don't know how many camcorders we're talking about but that strikes me as the deepest of ironies. The minerals are funding the conflict. The soldiers/combatants who are exploiting resources rape women. And then later the women get the camcorders, the very camcorders for which the resources are exploited and...And as Texas in Africa points out, that's money we're not spending on training/properly paying security forces.