Sexual violence is a grave problem the world over, but it is particularly prevalent in conflict zones like the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where I live and practice medicine. I frequently treat survivors of sexual violence, and many of my patients have been victims of this terrible crime on more than one occasion.
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.
“What a fabulous suit. She was perfect, perfect,” said a French woman standing behind me on the escalator. We had just emerged from two hours in a giant auditorium on the outskirts of London where we heard politicians, UN officials, and Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee speaking at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took the stage to give the keynote speech at the closing plenary of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, I expected words that would strike all the correct notes.
Words, words, words. At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, I spent most of the day listening to words and phrases used by human rights activists to describe sexual violence in conflict – words that are being co-opted by government officials.