“Unimaginable and unacceptable.” These are the words Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy for sexual violence and conflict, recently told the U.N. Security Council after finding out that Congolese government soldiers may have been the perpetrators of murder and rape against at least 200 women, in Luvungi, Congo. And all the while, U.N. peace keepers were stationed 20 miles away.
After the mass rape, the United Nations released a report on the incident detailing the failures of the peacekeeping mission in not acting on reports of increased treatments of rape in a nearby hospital.
Victims are now testifying in front of a U.N. panel, but moving forward, the key to ending mass violence against women in the Congo is ending impunity for the offenders.
The international community and specifically the United States must play a lead role in demanding an end to impunity for the horrific sexual violence that reoccurs in Congo. We are calling for an urgent investigation of government soldiers who failed to protect civilians or perpetrated crimes themselves. In addition, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo must implement a plan to better protect Congolese civilians and ensure that an atrocity like this never happens again.