Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heeeere's Johnnie

Some articles in the news:
  • US' top diplomat on Africa, Johnnie Carson, visited Kinshasa this week. Let's see...what could be on the top of his agenda - dealing with security sector reform? The high-stake upcoming elections? Respecting the rule of law? Not quite. According to one story (OK, it's a business magazine), he urged Kabila "to improve the business climate." He also spoke with Kabila briefly about the huge Tenke mining concession that belongs to Freeport McMoran, a US mining company that has been in a dispute with the Congolese government over the contract. The Congolese press also mentioned his visit to meet with the minister of finance, as well as a trip to Kisangani to see how the US marines were progressing with the training of one Congolese army battalion there. He also announced the signing of a $150 million HIV/AIDS prevention program with the Congolese government. I say it again: one battalion, an HIV/AIDS project and improving the business climate is a bit underwhelming.
  • Africa Confidential has a few stories (subscription only) about the race for oil concessions. Hydrocarbons minister Celestin Mbuyu is apparently in Europe, trying to get investors to invest in the many concessions in the east, center and west of the country. They expect Kabila to try to sign deals to get the hefty singing bonuses to fund his election next year.
  • The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Oxfam have published a report on sexual violence in the Kivus. While I have some questions about their methodology (the study is based on cases reported to one hospital in Bukavu), there main conclusion appears fairly solid: that many more cases of rapes committed by civilians are being reported. They conclude that rape has become accepted in society, which is worrisome as a long-term trend.


Sam Gardner said...

When the GBV projects were started in the DRC, one of the underlying thoughts was the following: in different Sub Saharan countries with good legal systems and women empowerment, domestic and intra-community rape was rampant(only the top of the iceberg going to the police or the medical system, just like in Europe).

In Central Africa, where rape had not been prosecuted for decades, domestic and local rape could be endemic, nobody knew. Starting a project against GBV by "strangers" is something that could be used to pry open the door for establishing the right to physical integrity for women in the long run.

Jason Stearns said...

True, true. But that will only happen if SGBV programs can rehabilitate the justice system and help change popular attitudes towards rape. We haven't been very successful at that so far.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most serious yet undocumented consequences of a large-scale use of rape at times of conflicts: sexual violence continues afterwards and is very hard to eradicate, as the limits have been detroyed. Fight against impunity is necessary but also communication campaigns/activities to raise awareness among communities and reestablish those limits in the society. War is not really finished if women are not safe and their body integrity permanently threatened or violated, as it is the case now in Eastern DRC.

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