“The important message remains: that rape and sexual slavery have become amazingly commonplace in this region of the D.R.C., and have defined this conflict as a war against women” according to Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Radio Okapi plays a critical role in reporting on sexual violence, and in providing essential information to the Congolese population.
Women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An assessment in late 2012 by Action Aid, the American NGO, found that the recent conflict between M23 and FARDC led to an increase in human rights violations, and in particular sexual and gender based violence targeting women and girls.
Radio Okapi has been an important source of information on human rights, and specifically on gender based violence, for the population of DRC. Recent polls place Radio Okapi in the forefront of the media in Congo in terms of audience figures across the whole country, estimated at 14 million listeners daily, and more than 20 million “regular” listeners (at least once a week), by the IMMAR polling institute.
News and programs on the topic and related issues are produced and aired on Radio Okapi and shared with partner media. The programs range in subject; special guests and interviews, live dialogue between listeners and informative content about sexual violence and laws against rape.
A sampling of recent news and reports aired on sexual violence include:
Ituri: more than 1,500 cases of sexual violence recorded in 2012. Summary: During a visit to the DRC, Ban Ki-moon’s special representative was informed that rape was even a concern to infants. She promised to report to the Secretary General of the UN.
North Kivu: over 2,500 women raped in a month. Summary: Beginning September 2012, the NGO Heal Africa published a report which lists 2,500 rapes in North Kivu, increasingly by civilians. 70% of victims treated in the NGO’s hospital are minors.
Kinshasa: a 40 year old man accused of raping a girl of 3 years. In the suburbs of Kinshasa, the rapist then offered an arrangement to the victim’s family if they agreed not to sue – a mobile phone and two (2) U.S. dollars.
Guest of the day: Georgette Biebie: “Victims of sexual violence must break the silence and speak out.” An interview on International Day against Sexual Exploitation.
Guest of the day: Colette Braeckman talks about her book “Sexual violence in Congo: the battle of Mukwege.” Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman speaks about the book she dedicated to Mukwege, renowned worldwide for the free care it administers to female victims of sexual violence in eastern DRC . The book was published when Dr. Mukwenge was exiled to Brussels after escaping an assassination attempt at his home in Bukavu.
Dialogue between Congolese. The United States condemned the mass rape of women in eastern DRC. A professor of criminal law, a women’s rights activist in South Kivu and local NGOs discussed in light of the political program on Radio Okapi condemnation by the United States of mass rape in eastern DRC in July 2011
Okapi service. Discussing the sanctions under Congolese law in the case of the rape of a minor. The show popularized the law against rape in the DRC.
Increase in cases of sexual abuse of minors in the DRC. In its 2010 report published in April 2011 League Africa region for the defense of the rights of children, pupils and students (Lizadeel) released statistics that almost 68% of victims of sexual violence medically supported the Democratic Republic of Congo are children. Listeners called to comment on this disturbing fact.