Thirteen months ago we noticed as both the Senate and the House of Representatives in the United States undertook the large task of Financial Reform. The goal was to prevent the meltdown that occurred back in 2008. Recently one part of that endeavor was accomplished to little or no fanfare but it is very critical to US Policy.
One of the main concerns was the incorporation of the Congo Conflict Minerals Act into what became known as the Dodd-Frank Act. It has been determined that the trade in “Conflict Minerals” which is prevalent in the strife-torn Kivu Provinces was a source of the rampant Sexual Assaults against the Women in the region.
What was not made aware to the American People was a small provision in this Law. It mandated that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) submit to the appropriate Committees in Congress a report that assessed the rate of both sexual and gender based violence that is occurring in the DRC and in the region as a whole.
The GAO assessed the two main types of data. Those being population-based surveys and the other being case file data. The Report that was submitted to Congress discovered that surveys were more appropriate for gather data due to the techniques of random sampling and that the results easier to generalize.
The findings for the Democratic Republic of the Congo were shocking. Using the most recent survey available that was conducted in the Kivus in 2010, it was discovered that 9% of the population had experienced some form of sexual assault during the previous year. Comparing this to an earlier study that was conducted in 2007 this is good news. According to the 2007 study 16% of those surveyed suffered from sexual assault between 1993 and 2007. It should be noted that each survey used different estimation techniques as well.
A third survey that was conducted in 2007 estimated that 8% of the Women in North Kivu and 6% of those in South Kivu were victims of Sexual Assault in the previous year as well. In comparison the only other country in the region that had available data had very low numbers. This country Uganda conducted its survey in the previously war-torn Northern Districts. This region was the initial birthplace of the Lord’s Resistance Army as well. But the numbers that were reported are miniscule as compared to the DRC.
The Study found that one half of one percent of the Women in the North of Uganda reported episodes of sexual violence from April 2009 to April 2010. This is in contract to a similar study conducted on a National Level in 2006. That report found that 39% of the Women and 11% of men had experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes.
So what can we conclude from this? In Central Africa Sexual Assaults continue to remain a problem. Our most “critical ally” Rwanda has not undertaken or allowed for a study to take place regarding this topic within its borders, and that Armed Groups still have some sway in the region.
The GAO provided a draft copy of this report to the State Department and other relevant agencies for review and comment. These agencies reviewed the report and responded that they had no comment. So yet again it is time for the activists to speak up for the voiceless…..
By Scott A Morgan
The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and comments on US Policy towards Africa. Confused Eagle can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com