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CONGO: where rape has become a weapon of war


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Located in central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is in deep humanitarian crisis as the civil war continuing there has led to massive loss of human lives in the last 15 years. Congo has always been the epicenter of all wars in Africa. The war had an economic as well as a political side. Fighting was aggravated by the country's enormous mineral wealth, with all sides taking benefit of the chaos to rob natural resources.

Situated at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, Congo was bestowed with the resources of vast potential wealth, but its economy declined since mid 1980s. Economy of Congo relies heavily on mining and the country is largest producer of cobalt ore and major contributors in global production of copper and industrial diamond.

Apart from these, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also been the focus of the world for pitiable condition of women as UN reports it to be the rape capital of the world. In the last 15 years, millions of women have been being raped, tortured and ill treated in the country. In the fight against the Congolese govt, rebel soldiers, primarily in eastern parts, use rape to intimidate the local people.

According to American Journal of Public Health, approximately 1.69 to 1.80 million Congolese women reported having been raped in their lifetime (with 407397–433785 women reporting having been raped in the preceding 12 months), and approximately 3.07 to 3.37 million women reported experiencing partner sexual violence. Reports of sexual violence were largely independent of individual-level background factors. However, compared with women in Kinshasa, women in Nord-Kivu were significantly more likely to report all types of sexual violence.

The scale of violence against women in Congo is much higher than we can imagine. In fact United Nations officials have described the Congo as the epicenter of rape being utilized as a weapon of war.

The deplorable story of Congolese women is loud and clear. While most parts of the world are aspiring towards goals that give everyone equal opportunity to learn and grow, the world still remains mute spectator as Congo makes the worst example of crimes against women.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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