The New Sexual Violence Legislation in the Congo: Dressing Indelible Scars on Human Dignity


Zongwe, Dunia Prince. 2012. “The New Sexual Violence Legislation in the Congo: Dressing Indelible Scars on Human Dignity.” African Studies Review 55 (2): 37–57. doi:10.1353/arw.2012.0047.


Author: Dunia Prince Zongwe


This article describes a legal thread running from the commission of massive sexual violence in the eastern provinces of the Congo since 1996 to the enactment of liberal legislation in 2006 to combat sexual violence throughout the country, especially in eastern Congo. In doing so, the article fills a gap in the nascent legal literature on systematic sexual violence. It finds that the new rape law is progressive, liberal, gender-neutral, and in keeping with international law. However, an unfortunate lapse in legislative drafting puts in doubt the authority of the courts to use the new rape law to prosecute systematic sexual violence. Despite this weakness, as well as harsh realities such as resource limitations and institutionalized corruption, the new sexual violence law, "the law of shameful acts," nonetheless provides a framework on the basis of which the state and rape survivors can prosecute perpetrators. It is a necessary step in upholding accountability and preparing for the more daunting task of healing communities affected by a devastating regional war.

Topics: Extractive Industries, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2012

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