Militarized sexual violence in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

J Interpers Violence. 2013 Jan;28(2):340-58. doi: 10.1177/0886260512454742. Epub 2012 Aug 27.


Eastern DRC has been the site of a protracted conflict in which sexual violence has been a defining feature. The method used was a retrospective registry-based study of sexual violence survivors presenting to Panzi Hospital between 2004 and 2008. This analysis aimed to describe the patterns of sexual violence described by survivors and to analyze perpetrator profiles. As regards results, a total of 4,311 records were analyzed. Perpetrators in this data set were identified as follows: (a) 6% were civilians; (b) 52% were armed combatants; and (c) 42% were simply identified as "assailant(s)" with no further identifying information. Those identified simply as "assailants" perpetrated patterns of sexual violence that were similar to those of armed combatants, suggesting that this group included a large number of armed combatants. Civilian assailants perpetrated a pattern of sexual violence that was distinct from armed combatants. Conclusions are as follows: These data suggest that a high proportion of sexual assaults in South Kivu are perpetrated by armed combatants. Protection of women in South Kivu will require new strategies that take into account the unique nature of sexual violence in DRC. Engaging with local communities, the UN and other aid organizations is necessary to create new context-appropriate protection programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Prevention / organization & administration*
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Stigma
  • Warfare*
  • Women's Health