This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The United Nations General Assembly convened in New York this week, and the reports from the summit focused on speeches from world’s leaders in attendance, including President Obama and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But there’s a story about the U.N. you may not have heard, and it’s one you need to know.

The news accounts of the story included this headline: U.N. “failed” rape victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the past few weeks that story was reported around the world — but got very little coverage in the United States. There is outrage over the U.N.’s report that it’s own forces did not stop more than 500 sexual assaults that occurred in Congo this summer.

In this extended web interview, Need to Know’s Alison Stewart talks with Anneke van Woudenberg, senior researcher on the Democratic Republic of Congo for Human Rights Watch, about the Congo mass rape. Van Woudenberg has worked in the DRC since 1999. She’s spent that time investigating humanitarian and human rights issues.  She provides regular reports to the U.N. as well as the U.S. Congress, and she has first-hand experience with the victims of — and witnesses to — these atrocities.


  • US Buyer

    I routinely buy computers and cell phones for my company and I would buy large numbers of computers on a regular basis from the first computer manufacturer who advertises hardware that is free of Congo minerals.

  • Jim Sugarman

    We must know more and we must do all possible to stop these atrocities against the women and children of the Congo. Jim Sugarman

  • Judyann

    Can anyone name companies to buy from for phones and computers

  • mc

    I don’t understand why they the Democratic Republic of Congo when there is no Democracy, no value for humans, and no social order. What the Media showed about Congo is only a drop in the Ocean. We must know more and send United Nations people and other Red Cross Volunteers to help these victims.

  • Bob Cummings

    The rapes and abuse in the Congo has been covered fairly well by the Washington Post and Washington Times since August. Religious and humanitarian sites have also been covering the Congo and the Rwandan Army brutalizing the Hutus for sometime. An article in the Washington Post by Carol Leonnig this past August 25th highlights politicians that deal with Denis Sassou-Nguesso regime. It’s a good read as to the corruption that’s rampant in the Congo. I couldn’t imagine a more frustrating position, as Ms. Van Woudenberg has, being a Human Rights Advocate at the UN. Amazingly, President Obama and our State Dept. was more concerned in getting involved with Kenya’s Constitution and its vote which elevates “khadi courts”, to the detriment of other beliefs and supporting abortion, then the “glaring atrocities” taking place.

  • Doreen

    This was one of the most moving and horrific interviews I’ve seen. How can we help?

  • Cheetah

    The American media doesn’t tell us, because the corporations who are stealing the minerals and diamonds are American companies from day one.
    The big lie Ms. Van Woudenberg lied to the world is, the UN Peace Keepers never knew about this atrocity or don’t want to get involved. The so called, UN Peace Keepers are, a part of the rape, the loot, and the killing. They are occupiers and mercenaries, they work for CIA. They never meant to keep peace, but to silence and kill any body against the plunder.
    NINE million Congolese killed, since 1996, and still going on everyday. Can you imagine, if 9 million Belgians or Germans being killed, what the US and English government would do? but, BLACKS are not WHITES, and they have to be exterminated for the sake of to make WHITE MAN rich.
    This is ETHNIC CLEANSING, and above all it is a BLACK HOLOCAUST, a crime against HUMANITY, it has to stop.
    Please, let’s all do the simplest thing to stop this madness, write to your SENATOR or CONGRESS MAN/WOMAN.

  • Csinvictus

    In preparing for the eventual apprehensions and world court criminal cases arising from these events, the U.N.’s role is clear: Begin forensic recovery of specimens and substratum, safely store the analyte and prepare for war crime voir dire.

  • akd

    mr. cummings, the atrocities in the DRC have been ongoing for quite some time. obama is but one of many, many people to have ignored atrocities in DRC.

  • Martha Mohler

    How can I reach Ms Van Woudenberg?