One-third of Congolese men admit committing sexual violence

A study conducted by Sonke Gender Justice and a Brazilian NGO, ProMundo in and near Goma in Congo’s North Kivu province shows that more than one in three men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s war-torn east have committed sexual assault, and three in four believe that a woman who “does not dress decently is asking to be raped”.

Some 61.4% of men interviewed said women sometimes deserve to be beaten; 42.7% think that “if a woman doesn’t show physical resistance when forced to have sex, it’s not rape”; and 27.9% believe that sometimes women want to be raped.

Well over 40% of the men polled asserted that a man should reject his wife when she has been raped.

The findings show that sexual violence is much more than a weapon of war, activists said, and reflect widespread acceptance of patriarchal norms and rape myths. They also pointed to Congo’s incendiary mix of conflict, poverty and weak law enforcement as causal factors in need of urgent redress.

A total of 708 men and 754 women aged between 18 and 59 took part in individual interviews and focus group discussions in June this year.

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