UNICEF and MONUSCO condemn rapes in South Kivu
KINSHASA, DRC, 27 June 2013 - The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in DRC, Mr. Roger Meece and the Country Representative of UNICEF, Ms. Barbara Bentein, are deeply concerned about recent cases of rape of young girls, in Kavumu–Lwiro axis, in South Kivu Province, east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Over the past two months, nine young girls aged between eighteen months and twelve years old have been admitted to Panzi Hospital in South Kivu with marks of violence on their bodies and very serious internal wounds, resulting in the death of two children and numerous severe health complications and untold psychological problems for the survivors. Such violence and abuse is unacceptable and must be brought to an immediate end.
These abuses are said to be related to harmful traditional practices perpetrated by individuals who kidnap young children from their communities. These practices are in violation of international and national laws as they undermine the full realization of the rights of the child with serious implications on the child’s protection, survival and development.
UNICEF and MONUSCO are mindful of the steps that have been taken by Congolese authorities to arrest two suspects implicated in the cases. Nonetheless, these must be accompanied by concrete measures to conduct full investigations and prosecution of all perpetrators involved in this despicable practice. The relevant authorities are urged to take the necessary steps in this regard in line with the State’s obligations under national and international law, as well as commitments recently made during the celebrations of the Day of the African Child on 18 June 2013, on the elimination of harmful traditional practices.
However, while political will is crucial to eliminate those harmful social and cultural practices, it is important that communities at large work to abandon them for the sake of children’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing, and for their health, education and general development.
The United Nations will continue to work with the Government of DRC, civil society organisations and other partners towards ensuring accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence as well as providing adequate support to the survivors.
Mounoubai Madnodje, Spokesperson, MONUSCO