Picture from un.org (celebration of November 25 in Monrovia)
The last thirty years have been difficult for the Congo Brazzaville. It started with the abondamment of the socialist regime which has been adopted by the country since 1963. In 1991, after a national conference, during which the country has decided to change the form of government, the Congo adopted a democratic regime with a president that was elected. Since then, the country has been affected by an instability due to civil unrest, war and really serious conflict that takes roots in the tribal diversity.With this instability, the Congolese women conditions have been deteriorated. Women have seen a rise of violence against them that was not known before the multiple wars that the country went to.the nature of violence against women can been notice in the rise of cases of rape, violence that are rooted in’ the traditions and customs still persists. Besides, all these cases there is a lack of judiciary protections for women. Our thoughts on this month of March, the women month as it has been referred, are focused on these issues.
After the multiple civil wars and the political instability that followed, the Congo Brazzaville have a significant amount of cases of rape. The other form of violence is rooted on the custom and tradition.
Rape against women
In recent years, rape has been become the number one cause of violence against women. Rape has not always been common in Congolese society. The cases of rape were really rare. However, by the the early 90´s , the country went into a lot of political events that created a lot of civil unrest, tribal conflicts and wars. We think about the war, in 1993 and 1994, another armed conflict in 1997 and 1998, and the most recent one that started in 2016 and it is still going on.
This atmosphere of war has left the Congolese women very vulnerable. In fact, a report by a NGO Medecin sans frontières , published in french by Francoise Bouchet-Saulnier, it said that a thousand of women raped during the civil war presented themselves at the hospital called Makelekele in Brazzaville in 1999.These are only the cases that have been reported. With the new war that is going on at this very moment, some new cases of rape have been reported by sources that have not been verified yet by leschroniquesdeladiaspora.com
Other form of violence
In Brazzaville, violence of other nature than rape, still exist. In fact many women are still being beaten by their husbands, partners or significant other. In most cases, it is not reported on the media because it has been commonly accepted that it is ok for a man to correct his wife by beating them. This is not ok and it should not be.A study conducted in 2015, by the Congo Brazzaville minister of women rights promotion concluded that among the 600 women that were surveyed , 62% of them were victims of physical, emotional, mental and psychological violence.(ref actualités.agenceinfonet.com).The sad part is that there seem to be a lack of protection.
Lack of protection from violence
In the Congo Brazzaville , the laws to protect women against violence of all nature exist. The Congo model his judiciary system to that of France. Therefore, most laws that are recognized in France are in the Congo. The penal code of the Congo Brazzaville recognizes all sort of violence that women can be subject to. And the same code goes even further by recognizing sexual abuse during conflicts. This is the case of article 330 and 340.
However, these laws that were meant to protect women are not well known in the country. Often, all cases of rape, physical and psychological abuse are not reported to the authorities. Women are still vulnerable and lack protection against all sort of violence against them.
The cases of rape during war is even worst. In fact, for these particular cases the government or maybe the entire society failed to protect those women who were victims of sexuel violence during the events or civil war of 1993-1994, 1997, and 1997-1998. A law number 21-99, of December 20 1999, gave an amnesty to all those who committed war crimes such as rape…The purpose of this amnesty was to reconcile the Congolese society with itself, to promote peace. However the well being of women was not taken in consideration.
The Congolese women are still vulnerable to violence. Society has so far failed to protect women. That why,on this day of women international day, our thoughts really go to those women who have all their life have to live with the burden of violence and its consequences. So many of them are raped everyday. May God protect all women who victims of violence all around the world.