This past week, PHR wrapped up a three-day roundtable discussion in Nairobi, Kenya, where we brought together 45 of our colleagues from both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya to discuss successes, challenges, and new opportunities created by our innovative Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones.
I remember my feelings of shock and helplessness after learning about traumatic fistula, which – in addition to its debilitating physical symptoms – leads victims to be shunned and isolated from their communities. Traumatic fistulas are common in conflict and post-conflict settings, and are often the result of violent rape coupled with deliberate damage.
PHR has helped local activists create numerous self-governing medical-legal networks across Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help facilitate collaboration and cooperation among medical professionals, legal and judicial experts, the media, local communities, and NGOs.
The ICC has received a variety of criticism. The African Union, for example, has accused the court of anti-African bias. One of the most vocal critics is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who charged the ICC with “shallowness” for pursuing the Kenya cases.
In the first half of 2014, nearly 3,000 people have fallen victim to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the medical group Heal Africa, which treats survivors of sexual violence in the eastern part of the country.