Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Country Information

Population: 75,507,308 (2013 estimate)
Location: Central Africa


Statistics on sexual violence

  • It is estimated 1000 rapes happen a day in the DRC (2011 report)
  • 40,000 rapes were reported between 1998-2004 (Amnesty report)
  • Rape against men and women has been reported
  • The war has also been called “a war against women” (Braeckman, in Turner, 2007:3), due to the high number of female deaths and the atrocious treatment of women by all fighting groups.
  • In a recent study, one in three men admitted to committing sexual violence (2013).


Further research (by coalition member, Tearfund) has shown that:

  • Sexual violence is rife, ongoing, and targeting all women (and some men), regardless of age or ethnicity.
  • Sexual violence is generally very violent, resulting in extensive physical trauma.
  • While perpetrators are mostly fighters, civilians also commit SV and perpetrators are rarely caught, prosecuted or punished.
  • SV survivors experience large-scale rejection and stigmatisation, by partner, family and community and receive very little support of any form.
  • While the research participants believe that the church can play an important role in addressing SV and its consequences, it is currently not doing so.

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The war within the DRC has been compared to the Second World War and the holocaust (Turner, 2007:2), mainly because of the large number of deaths due to the war.  Its death toll from 1997 to 2001 has been estimated at 3,8 million (Turner, 2007:2), although various estimates between 900,000 and 5.4 million have been offered (Butty, 2010).

In 1996 armed forces invaded the DRC via the province of South Kivu.  While the invasion ostentatiously started as a local attempt to oust Hutu militias who had fled their after the Rwandan genocide, the invading group soon declared themselves the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) and continued to infiltrate the DRC.  The AFDL included four groups that opposed the current Mobutu regime and one of their leaders was Laurent Kabila.  Rwanda, it has been said, used these local groups “to provide a (Congolese) face for what was in fact an invasion” (Turner, 2007:4-5).

The AFDL was successful and in May 1997 Mobutu fled and Kabila became president.  But quickly his relationship with his international and national support base deteriorated.  Thus, in 1998, there was an attempt to overthrow Kabila, which led to a second war.  In 2001 Kabila was assassinated and his son – Joseph – became president.  He called for peace talks and 2002 a ceasefire agreement was signed by all parties involved in the war (Turner, 2007: 5-8).

Some see these two wars as civil wars; others see them as international wars because of Rwandan, Ugandan and other international involvement at various levels (Turner, 2007:8).  The fact remains that the DRC is not yet at peace.  Especially North and South Kivu have frequent outbreaks of fighting, with many different rebel groups still present and fighting within the region.  The UN peacekeeping envoy, MANUC, is still present, although its withdrawal is planned.

While peace was officially declared in the DRC in 2002, fighting is still continuing.

What the church is doing?

Churches in Eastern DRC have been supporting survivors with care and support over the years, however often the churches themselves have little training and resources to offer substantial support.

Plans are also underway to pilot a programme looking at the cultural and society ideas surrounding masculinity and how changes in this can prevent sexual violence and enable men and boys to speak out openly against sexual violence.

We Will Speak Out: DRC

On the 27th February 2014, the national WWSO coalition was launched at an event co-hosted by the Anglican Archbishop Henri Isingoma and UNAIDS in Kinshasa. Bringing together faith leaders, NGOs, UN agencies and key stakeholders, the meeting symbolised a commitment from all stakeholders to work together to end sexual violence throughout the DRC.

Head table DRC launch  IMG_0288

Photo, left: Hendrew Lusey (EHAIA), Archbishop Isingoma, Dr Sahko (UNAIDS) and Christine Karambu (Tearfund) speak on the panel during the launch.

Photo, right: IMA World Health share about the context of SV within the DRC

British Ambassador to DRC Diane Corner

We had the honour to have UK Ambassador, Diane Corner to close the launch meeting in Kinshasa.

Diane also signed the WWSO personal pledge to speak out and act against sexual violence.

To sign the pledge go here.



  • 50 years, 50 faces

    An exhibition of photographs to make the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 50 years of independence, sharing the faces and words of women who have survived sexual violence. Published in August […]

    Read more

  • A story from DR Congo

    A rape survivor from the Democratic Republic of Congo talks about her experience of being abducted, raped and impregnated by Rwandan soldiers, some of whom were infected with HIV. From […]

    Read more

  • Chepka’s Story

    Chepka lives in a village in Eastern DRC. In 1994 rebels entered her village during the conflict. When the villagers saw them coming, all of them ran for their lives. […]

    Read more

  • If I speak out, will anyone hear?

    Breaking the silence of sexual violence in DRC

    Read more

Latest news